October 24, 2011
Cathedral City officials formally marked National Latino AIDS Awareness Day (NLAAD) on Oct. 15 with a proclamation recognizing organizers of a testing and education event held at Walgreens Pharmacy, 33-975 Date Palm Drive.
It was the fourth year the Coachella Valley promoted NLAAD, but the first time the day was commemorated on the valley's west side. This year's theme was "Latinos Unite! Let's Stay Healthy! Get Tested for HIV."
"HIV and AIDS are valley-wide issues. That is why we felt so strongly about bringing the event to the west end of the valley," said Josie Diaz, Walgreens' community liaison, who attended along with Mayor Kathleen DeRosa, Assembly member V. Manuel Pérez, and officials from Bienestar Human Services Inc.
"There has been a growth in the number of people who come out to this event each year because it gives people a safe venue to get information," Diaz said. "There is still a lot of stigma that is associated with the disease, especially in the Latino community, which causes people to wait to get treatment until they are really sick with HIV or AIDS."
Attendees could get their blood pressure checked, obtain information on insurance coverage, and get vaccinated against the flu in addition to receiving information about HIV/AIDS. A barbeque lunch was provided.
Bienestar handed out fliers, brochures, and information on HIV/AIDS support groups. "We try to be at every event possible so that we can make sure the Latino community is aware that there is help for them," said Joanna Alfaro, case manager and health advocate at Bienestar, which was founded in 1989 specifically to provide HIV/AIDS-related services to Latinos.
For more information about Bienestar, visit www.bienestar.org or telephone Alfaro or Raul Villicana at 760-398-3166.