Third Annual National Latino AIDS Awareness Day To Address Stigma, Secrecy Surrounding HIV/AIDS in Community
Reducing the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS and encouraging people in the Latino community to be tested for HIV are major themes of the third annual National Latino AIDS Awareness Day, scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 15, the Miami Herald reports (Tasker, Miami Herald, 10/13). The theme of the day is "Love Yourself. Protect Yourself. Get Tested for HIV." An estimated 176,000 Latinos in the U.S. are HIV-positive, and HIV/AIDS is a leading cause of death among both Latinos and Latinas, according to the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR, 10/14). "Latino communities face many obstacles in the fight against HIV/AIDS, including cultural stigma, ... misconceptions and lack of knowledge about the disease, language barriers, lack of access to adequate health care and high poverty," Anthony Fauci, director of the NIH National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in a statement marking the day. National, regional and local efforts involving Latino organizations need to raise awareness within the Latino community and encourage the community to promote HIV/AIDS prevention programs, testing and support, Fauci added (NIAID release, 10/12). Latinos make up 20% of people living with AIDS in the U.S., but account for 14% of the population, according to AIDS Healthcare Foundation President Michael Weinstein. According to CDC, 45% of Latinos have never been tested for HIV and 40% have never talked with a doctor about the disease. In Florida, the state Department of Health's Bureau of HIV/AIDS recently announced a 36% increase in the number of HIV cases detected among Latinos in the state over the last six years (AHF release, 10/12). Latinos in Florida are twice as likely as their white counterparts to contract HIV, and Latinas are three times as likely to be HIV-positive as white women, Tom Liberti, who heads the state HIV/AIDS bureau, said (LaMendola, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 10/13).
AHF will mark NLAAD by organizing community outreach events throughout Florida. The organization also will offer HIV testing at a mobile testing van in Los Angeles (AHF release, 10/12). Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus last week marked the event by speaking on the House floor to call on Congress to reauthorize the Ryan White CARE Act, which expired on Sept. 30 (National Minority AIDS Council release, 10/6). The Louisiana Latino Health Coalition for HIV/AIDS Awareness, Louisiana AIDS Advocacy Network, NO/AIDS Task Force and other AIDS organizations in the state plan to organize events to mark the day despite the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina (Latino Commission on AIDS release, 10/5).
Additional information on events taking place around the country is available online through the NLAAD calendar.