amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research

October 15 is National Latino AIDS Awareness Day

National Latino AIDS Awareness Day

 

“There is a growing HIV/AIDS crisis in parts of the United States, with Hispanics accounting for one in every five new HIV infections,” Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R – FL), chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, told the audience at a September 20 Capitol Hill Congressional briefing on HIV/AIDS and hepatitis among Latinos in the U.S. 

Convened each year by the Latino Commission on AIDS with community partners from across the nation, the briefing kicked off events leading up to the 10th National Latino AIDS Awareness Day which is held on October 15 each year.  The commemoration day aims to bring greater attention to the impact of HIV/AIDS and hepatitis on Latino communities in the U.S.

 “Many barriers remain that still prevent Hispanics from seeking testing. Along with a strong social stigma that is attached to this disease, there still remain language barriers and fears over immigration status that deter testing,” continued Representative Ros-Lehtinen. 

While it typically takes 10 to 12 years after initial HIV infection for AIDS to develop in a person, 42 percent of Latinos who test HIV positive are diagnosed with AIDS within a year, indicating that many are not tested until they start developing symptoms of AIDS.  Making sure prevention and treatment efforts provide culturally relevant access to care for all Latinos, regardless of immigration status or language barriers is an important theme leading up to this year’s National Latino AIDS Awareness Day.

Public service campaigns like Es Mejor Saber (It’s Better to Know), produced by Southwest CARE Center, an HIV test and treatment facility in New Mexico, place emphasis on reaching Latinos using unique and engaging mediums like murals. 

Events around National Latino AIDS Awareness Day are organized in more than 350 cities and 45 states across the country and territories, mobilizing communities to promote HIV testing opportunities, connect people to care, and to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS.  You can find a free or low-cost test site in your area by calling a hotline at 1-800-232-4636 or using the web-based resources listed on the CDC website in Spanish or English.