News Release
October 6, 2010
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October 15 is Latino AIDS Awareness Day in Minnesota

HIV testing opportunities planned for October


Minnesota will join the eighth annual observance of National Latino AIDS Awareness Day (NLAAD) on October 15 to raise awareness of the increasing HIV infection rates among Latinos across the nation.

Since 1982, 643 Latino men, women and children have been diagnosed with HIV infection in Minnesota, including 138 that have died, according to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). Currently, there are 521 Latinos living with HIV in the state, including those who moved to Minnesota after they were diagnosed in other states. Statewide, HIV infection rates for Latinos were five times greater than whites. In 2009, 996 Latinos were also infected with other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis.

This year’s national theme, “Save a life. It may be your own,” speaks to the critical role and importance of prevention education and early HIV testing in saving lives.

“Knowing your HIV status is a critical first step in reducing the spread of HIV,” said Peter Carr, STD and AIDS Director for MDH. “The earlier you test, the more beneficial the treatment. Unfortunately, many of our Latino residents are testing at late stages of their HIV infection.”

Latinos have had the highest percentage of “late testers” for HIV infection compared to all other population groups (48 percent between the years 2000 and 2009) in Minnesota. Late testers are those that already have AIDS by the time they test, or will progress to AIDS within one year of the initial diagnosis with HIV (non-AIDS) infection. That means many Latinos are testing between 5 to 10 years after they have become infected – missing years of beneficial treatment and prevention education.

HIV infection remains highly preventable, although health officials emphasize that there still is no cure or vaccine to stop HIV/AIDS. Ways to prevent or reduce the spread of HIV include avoiding or delaying the start of sexual activity, decreasing the number of sexual partners, using latex condoms consistently and correctly, avoiding the sharing of needles or equipment to tattoo, body pierce or inject drugs, and knowing your HIV status.

Testing opportunities are available specifically for Latinos from bilingual staff and clinics that can address cultural issues and language barriers faced by Latinos seeking HIV testing. To locate testing facilities, a bilingual campaign website has been set-up at http://www.NoMasHIV.com.

The STD and HIV Section at MDH currently funds 22 programs through 16 agencies aimed at preventing the spread of HIV in adults and young people of all races who inject drugs and/or engage in sexual behaviors that transmit HIV. The programs serving Latinos with HIV prevention efforts include Neighborhood House and West Side Community Health Services in St. Paul and Centro Campesino in Owatonna.

For NLAAD 2010, the Minnesota Latino HIV/AIDS Network – a local community-based planning committee - has set up some HIV testing opportunities and exhibits. In addition, Gov. Tim Pawlenty has proclaimed Friday, Oct. 15, as Latino AIDS Awareness Day in Minnesota.

For more information, including local testing opportunities and activities for NLAAD, please visit http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/idepc/diseases/hiv/worldaidsday/nlaad/index.html.

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National Latino AIDS Awareness Day activities will occur throughout October
...in Minnesota, here is a sample event listing...

October 9, 15, 16, 23 and 30, 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m., Central Mercado, 1515 East Lake Street, Minneapolis, MN 55407. Free rapid HIV testing will be offered during several dates in October in observance of National Latino HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. Free T-shirts, pens, key chains and educational materials will be available in Spanish and English.

October 10, 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m., Guadalupe Health Fair, 401 Concord Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55107: Free rapid HIV testing will be offered during the Guadalupe Health Fair in observance of National Latino HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. Free T-shirts, pens, key chains and educational materials will be available in Spanish and English.

October 14, 21 and 28, 4:00 – 7:30 p.m., Hennepin County Public Health Clinic, 525 Portland Avenue – 4th Floor, Minneapolis, MN 55415: Free HIV and syphilis testing for gay and bisexual men on a walk-in basis will be offered every Thursday in October. No appointment necessary and services provided in Spanish or English.

October 17, 10:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m., Pleasant Health Fair, 3801 Pleasant Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55409: Free rapid HIV testing will be offered during the Pleasant Health Fair in observance of National Latino HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. Free T-shirts, pens, key chains and educational materials will be available in Spanish and English.

-MDH-


For more information, contact:

Doug Schultz
MDH Communications
651-201-4993

Peter Carr
STD and HIV Section
651-201-4007