May 24, 2012
Tu Salud en Tus Manos -- a closer look at Latino Health. Photo credit: D.C. Department of Health.
Latino health issues took center stage last week at a conference downtown. La Clinica Del Pueblo hosted their first community health conference, "Tu Salud en Tus Manos -- Your Health in Your Hands." In conjunction with the D.C. Department of Health, a sea of 80 participants convened at the Barbara Jordan Conference Center in the Kaiser Family Foundation in Northwest to review results from a study. Together they brainstormed ways to effectively address Latino health concerns. Alicia Wilson, Executive Director of La Clinica Del Pueblo, squeezed out a few moments to discuss Latino health, the obstacles to wellness and the unique issues that come when addressing Latino health needs.
What was the significance of this conference?
This was the capstone of a two-year project. We did a study to help us understand structural factors that impact health and wellness in the Latino community. Then we designed an intervention to address some of the factors that impact health. It was a great opportunity for us to show what we've learned and to work with the community to map out what our next steps will be. We had participants from different sections [of the health community] who were reacting to the data and made recommendations going forward. We are looking for ways to improve the interventions and continue to fund these activities.
What are the health needs that are not being addressed in the Latino community?
There are so many. For one, access is a problem. Some others are eating well and getting people to move more. Also stress is a factor. We looked at ways that stress can impact your health such as increasing the chances for diabetes. The results from the survey were fascinating. We found that the top three reasons for stress among Latinos were: loneliness or isolation, economic stress, and not reaching your goals. Many Latinos come to this country with dreams of helping their families and send money back home. When they can't do that they feel as though they are disappointing those family members. Then there are things such as learning English, getting a GED, staying in school, and even finding someone to love that can interfere with getting health care.
When it comes to HIV/AIDS, what are the obstacles in prevention and treatment?
Access to testing is huge. Overcoming the structural problems such as homophobia, socioeconomics, and stress are difficult too. Religion plays a role too but it's one of many factors. We have to work very hard to include religion into discussions about HIV and we work closely with the faith communities in order to accomplish that goal. We build on people's strengths at La Clinica. If you find strength in your church, then we say let's build on that'. We have several programs in place already to address HIV in the Latino community.
Be on the look out for more innovative programs from La Clinica in the near future. If you're interested in helping, click here. There are many ways to lend a hand.