National Latino AIDS Awareness Day
October 2011—October 15 is National Latino AIDS Awareness Day. The Latino Commission on AIDS (LCOA), the Hispanic Federation, and many other organizations commemorate the day, which will be marking its ninth anniversary this year under the banner, Latinos Unite! Let's stay Healthy! Get Tested for HIV! The awareness campaign works annually to build capacity for nonprofit organizations and health departments in order to reach Latino/Hispanic communities, promote HIV testing, and provide HIV prevention information and access to care.
“There is still a sense of urgency in our community,” says Melissa Faith Ramírez, director of the Latino Commission on AIDS. “People are still getting infected so it’s very important to keep bringing the message to the community and dispel the stigma and all the myths that unfortunately still exist in the Latino community.”
HIV has had a disproportionately large impact on the Latino American community. Latinos account for nearly 20 percent of new HIV infections in the United States, though their share of the population as a whole is only 16 percent. The AIDS diagnosis rate among Latino adults/adolescents was the third highest of any racial/ethnic group in the U.S. in 2009—about three times that of whites. More than 200,000 Latinos are living with HIV in the U,S, today.
“Many Latinos are thinking more about how they’re going to put food on the table, how they’re going to pay the rent,” says Ramírez. “Unfortunately HIV is one of the last things on the list. Many folks do not want to be identified, so they may be afraid to get tested. They don’t know that HIV testing is confidential.”
Hundreds of Latino AIDS Awareness Day events will be held around the country, from Anchorage, Alaska, to Yuma, Arizona. Says Ramírez, “Wherever Latinos are, something is happening.” For a list of events taking place near you, click here