Why do we have a specific day that acknowledges HIV and AIDS in the Latino community? Myths, stigma, and lack of targeted education makes Latinos less aware of how to protect themselves from the virus. Hispanics are disproportionately affected by HIV: Latinos represent 16% of the U.S. population and 21% of all new HIV infections.
Further, 1 in 6 people living with HIV in the U.S. do not know they are infected, which contributes to the rates of new infections. In 2013, Hispanics/Latinos had the second highest rate of new HIV diagnoses compared to other races/ethnicities; one in 36 Latino men and one in 106 Latina women will be diagnosed with HIV at some point in their lives.
“HIV is a serious matter for the entire country, especially the Hispanic community, which is disproportionately affected. That is why NHCOA committed to doing our part in ending AIDS. Through our work with the CDC’s Act Against AIDS Leadership Initiative, we are helping to reduce the rates of HIV in hard-to-reach and diverse communities,” said Dr. Yanira Cruz, NHCOA President and CEO.
So what do we do about it? The CDC and the Latino Commission on AIDS encourage us to have just one conversation about HIV with someone in our lives: whether we’re asking our partners to get tested, talking to our doctors about prevention, or talking to our families about keeping ourselves safe. This year’s NLAAD theme, You and I Will Defeat AIDS (Tu y Yo Vamos a Derrotar al SIDA), is a call to action to work together to end the spread of HIV. It asks each of us to learn and share the facts about HIV, get tested, and stay in medical care if we are living with HIV.
For more information, check out NHCOA‘s website or the Latino Commission on AIDS at www.nlaad.org. Together – and with just one conversation at a time – we can end HIV/AIDS in the Latin@ communities and around the world.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Diverse Elders Coalition.