Today is National Latino AIDS Awareness Day (NLAAD). The Latino Commission of AIDS (LCOA), the Hispanic Federation, and other organizations organize the day to promote HIV testing, provide prevention information, and equip non-profits and health departments to reach out to Latino and Hispanic communities.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last week released results from its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report showing that the rate of new HIV infections among Hispanics is three times higher than whites, and that there are large regional differences in HIV infection among Latinos.
In the U.S., Latino gay and bisexual men account for more than 80% of all HIV infections among Latino men. However, rates of HIV infection among Latinas are four times those found in white women.
Over at the U.S. AIDS blog, Dr. Kevin Fenton, director of the CDC's National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, discussed the CDC's findings and highlighted the need for greater awareness in Latino communities. From the blog post:
There is no single solution to the epidemic among Latinos, and our work must be on all levels, national, state, community, and individual. Together we can begin to tackle the many social obstacles, ensure diversity awareness is part of our response, and work to tailor programs to fit the need. As an individual, start the dialogue, get the test, take the steps necessary to protect your health and the health of those you love. As a community, tackle social obstacles that keep many from seeking testing, care, and treatment. Start taking control today and stop the epidemic in the Latino community!
Fenton also made a statement on last year's NLAAD, saying that the homophobia, stigma, and the already high prevalence of HIV in the community are some of the factors that increase Latinos' risk for HIV infection.
Last year, NLAAD included a campaign to test New Yorkers passing through subway stations using OraQuick, an oral swab test for HIV that gives results in only minutes. OraQuick was approved this year for over-the-counter sales. A video of last year's New York subway campaign can be seen below.