California Hispanic HIV/AIDS Organization Urges Lawmakers To Increase Awareness in the Community, Pass Legislation
California-based BIENESTAR, the nation's largest Hispanic HIV/AIDS organization, last week organized a briefing at the state capitol urging lawmakers to increase HIV/AIDS educational campaigns and treatment services in the Hispanic community, the Sacramento Bee reports. Lack of health care access and late HIV detection in the Hispanic community has resulted in Hispanics being more likely than any other ethnic group to progress to AIDS within 12 months of an HIV diagnosis, according to the Bee. In addition, Hispanics accounted for nearly 23% of the 143,946 of AIDS cases reported in the state through the end of 2006, Barbara Bailey, acting director of the California Department of Health Services' Office of AIDS, said (Rojas, Sacramento Bee, 3/10). At the hearing -- which was co-sponsored by the California Latino Legislative Caucus -- caucus members and HIV/AIDS service and advocacy groups urged lawmakers to pass the Inmate and Community Public Health and Safety Act, which would allow organizations to distribute condoms in prisons, and a budget item that would fund an HIV awareness campaign aimed at minorities. Gilbert Cedillo, vice chair of the caucus, said, "Today, we took an important step by bringing these startling statistics to light and now we must make a commitment and pursue policies that will result in real change," adding, "We have a responsibility to ensure that race and ethnicity do not translate into an AIDS diagnosis" (BIENESTAR release). BIENESTAR CEO Oscar De La O said, "We also see [HIV/AIDS] as a social justice issue because poverty, lack of education, adequate medical care, immigration issues continue to impact HIV" (Sacramento Bee, 3/10).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.