October 5, 2012
10th annual observance of Latino AIDS Awareness Day set for October 15 in Minnesota
HIV testing opportunities planned for October
For the tenth year, Minnesota will observe National Latino AIDS Awareness Day (NLAAD) on Oct. 15 to raise awareness of the higher HIV infection rates occurring among Latinos in the state and across the nation.
According to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), 702 Latino men, women and children have been diagnosed with HIV infection in Minnesota, including 155 that have died since 1982 when reporting first began. Currently, there are 595 Latinos living with HIV in the state. Statewide, HIV infection rates for Latinos were three times greater than whites.
This year's national theme, "Hispanics united to end AIDS. Get tested for HIV,” emphasizes the importance of joining together to combat HIV and AIDS, knowing one's HIV status and getting into care if infected.
"Knowing your HIV status by getting tested early on is one of the most important steps you can take,” said Peter Carr, STD and AIDS Director for MDH. "Latinos have had the highest percentage of 'late testers' for HIV infection compared to all other population groups in Minnesota.”
Health officials noted that late testers are those that already have AIDS by the time they test, or progress to AIDS within one year of the initial HIV (non-AIDS) diagnosis. Late diagnosis of HIV is associated with increased transmission, death rates and health care costs.
"The earlier the treatment is started, the more beneficial the health outcomes including the less likely transmission to others,” said Carr. "Early treatment is proving to be an effective prevention strategy.”
Although there still is no cure or vaccine, health officials emphasize that 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.
"Late testing and higher infection rates tell us that we need to increase our efforts with local community partners to help reach these underserved communities,” said Carr. "Limited access to prevention and care programs, cultural and language barriers, and immigration status issues all contribute to this situation.”
The STD and HIV Section at MDH currently funds 22 programs through 16 agencies and the Office of Minority and Multicultural Health funds 6 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, Centro in Minneapolis, Healthfinders Collaborative in Northfield, and Hennepin County.
Free/low-cost HIV and STD 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 or other STDs is easy and results are kept private. To locate testing facilities, a bilingual campaign website has been set up at http://www.NoMasHIV.com/.
For NLAAD 2012, 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 Monday, 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 7, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m., Guadalupe Health Fair, Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, 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, pencils, necklaces and educational materials will be available in Spanish and English.
October 14, noon - 3 p.m., Mexican and Ecuadorian Health Fair, Assumption Church, 305 East 77th Street, Richfield, MN 55423: Free rapid HIV testing will be offered during the Mexican and Ecuadorian Health Fair in observance of National Latino HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. Free T-shirts, pencils, necklaces and educational materials will be available in Spanish and English.
STD and HIV Section