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Hispanic AIDS rate soaring

Hispanics, who make up 17 percent of the nation's AIDS cases, are contracting the deadly disease faster than any other ethnic group, U.S. Surgeon General Antonia Novello said Friday.

Twenty percent of women and 25 percent of children with the disease are Hispanic, said Novello, who released an AIDS report at a seminar in Miami.

"The Hispanic cases have gone up more than any other ethnic group in the last two years _ having increased 11 percent, even though Hispanics are only 19 percent of the American population," Novello said.

"For Hispanics, a report like this will be able to let us know that in our communities, it's no longer a case of them, it's a case of us," she added.

The 26-page report, published in English and Spanish, contains information on how to avoid getting AIDS _ using condoms, practicing monogamy _ and how AIDS patients can live productive lives.

Spreading AIDS-prevention messages among Hispanics is difficult because many of them aren't highly educated, Novello said.

Fifty-three percent of Hispanics finish high school; one in nine finishes college.

The AIDS report is written at the eighth-grade level.

She called on Hispanic leaders to broadcast AIDS prevention messages during soap operas, which have large Hispanic audiences, and to increase local efforts to check the spread of the disease.

The AIDS report released Friday can be obtained by calling the Centers for Disease Control at 1-800-342-AIDS (2437).