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HIV/AIDS and Latinas: What Does Gender Have to Do With It? Part 2

September 20, 2011

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Zayda Rivera: I want to bring this conversation full circle. What does gender have to do with it? Bianca, let's start with you. In your work with Latinas, do you feel like there's a difference between Latinas living with HIV/AIDS and other women from different races or ethnic groups? If so, what are those differences?

Bianca Lopez: Susan made the point earlier that there's no one cookie-cutter approach for any group. The way that we approach prevention interventions needs to be adapted to different groups. What works in one community won't necessarily work in another. What works with one ethnic group, won't work with another. Because everyone is individualized. Even the term Latina is such an encompassing term. I mean, you're talking about women who are of Puerto Rican descent, versus Cuban, versus Mexican, versus Colombian.

There are so many identities that are included under this one umbrella term. Even now, it's too much. So I think we need work on a community level, to approach individuals and meet them where they're at. Because everybody has a different identity. We also need to keep this in mind when advocating for policy as well.

Zayda Rivera: Those are really good points. Susan?

Susan Rodriguez: I can't speak to any one ethnic group, because I have so many different backgrounds. I don't even know half of them. But I think that, for Latinas, the only thing that kind of stands out for me is immigration and the lack of health insurance because of it. The issues of being undocumented and the language barriers. These are all issues specific to being a Latina. That may go for other people from other countries as well.

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All Women: Exactly.

Zayda Rivera: Maria, do you want to add anything?

Maria Mejia: Sure. I agree with both ladies; they're completely correct. Everybody is an individual. But from what I've observed, the need for more education and the language barrier are serious issues that Latinas face. We need more up-to-date resources that tell our stories, in our languages, that can give people support. There needs to be more organizations that are linking people to this information.

Like everyone said, immigration and the right to health care are important. Immigration is a big factor here in Miami. But like I said before, we have to educate everybody -- the immigrants and the citizens -- to let them know that they should not be ashamed of being HIV positive. We have to teach them and let them know by our stories that they don't have to live in shame. So they can actually come out, and perhaps get out of their depression and be more proactive. But most importantly, we have to remind people that HIV is not a moral disease, it's a condition that affects human beings and it can happen to anybody.

Zayda Rivera: Wonderful. And with that, I am going to bring this roundtable to a close. Thank you ladies for participating.

This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Read Part 1 here.


Copyright © 2011 The HealthCentral Network, Inc. All rights reserved.

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See Also
HIV & Me: A Guide to Living With HIV for Hispanics
The Body en Español
More on HIV/AIDS in the U.S. Latino Community

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