October 7, 2011
Latino AIDS Awareness Day set for October 15 in Minnesota
HIV testing opportunities planned for October
The ninth annual observance of National Latino AIDS Awareness Day (NLAAD) will be observed on Oct. 15 to raise awareness of the increasing HIV infection rates among Latinos in Minnesota and across the nation.
Since 1982, 679 Latino men, women and children have been diagnosed with HIV infection in Minnesota, including 150 that have died, according to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). Currently, there are 565 Latinos living with HIV in the state. Statewide, HIV infection rates for Latinos were five times greater than whites. In 2010, Latinos were also infected with other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) including 980 reported cases of chlamydia and 70 reported cases of gonorrhea.
This year's national theme, "Latinos unite! Let's stay healthy! Get tested for HIV!" emphasizes the importance of uniting to combat HIV and AIDS, knowing one's HIV status and getting into care if infected.
"Late diagnosis of HIV is associated with increased transmission, death rates and health care costs," said Peter Carr, STD and AIDS Director for MDH. "The earlier you test and get into care, the more beneficial the treatment and the less likely transmission will occur to others. Early treatment is proving to be an effective prevention strategy. 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 in Minnesota - 48 percent between the years 2000 and 2010 compared to 29 percent for whites. 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.
Although health officials emphasize that there still is no cure or vaccine, HIV infection remains highly preventable. Ways to prevent or reduce the spread of HIV include getting tested and getting into care if infected, avoiding or delaying the start of sexual activity, decreasing the number of sexual partners, using latex condoms consistently and correctly, and avoiding the sharing of needles or equipment to tattoo, body pierce or inject drugs.
Free/low-cost HIV testing opportunities are available specifically for Latinos from bilingual staff and clinics that can address cultural and language barriers faced by Latinos. Being tested for HIV is easy and results are kept private. 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 2011, the Minnesota Latino HIV/AIDS Network – a local community-based planning committee - has set up some HIV testing opportunities and exhibits. In addition, Gov. Mark Dayton has proclaimed Saturday, 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.
National Latino AIDS Awareness Day activities will occur throughout October
……in Minnesota, here is a sample event listing……
October 9, 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 16, 12:00 – 2:30 p.m., Assumption Church, 305 East 77th Street, Richfield, MN 55423: 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.
STD and HIV Section