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Palm Beach County's Guatemalan Mayan Community Raises HIV Awareness

May 26, 2006

In little more than two years, volunteers from Palm Beach County's Guatemalan Mayan community have reached more than 1,400 people with information on HIV/AIDS. Speaking the native languages of Mam, Kanjobal, Quiche, and Akateco, the certified HIV educators bring their prevention message to living rooms and churches, telling how HIV is completely preventable and that it is incurable.

"Some people have never heard of HIV at all," said volunteer Isaias Domingo, who, in the Mam dialect, has educated his neighbors about HIV for the past year.

Maya Ministry Director Sister Rachel Sena noted that native words for virus and immune do not exist in some Mayan dialects. Of those who have attended HIV education meetings, she said, 93 percent are illiterate. And even though many non-Spanish speaking indigenous Guatemalans live in the Lake Worth area, which is a hot spot for new infections, health officials do not have a count of how many have been infected, said Sena.

Maya Ministry has trained educators on a bare-bones $52,039 budget a grant has provided for each of the two previous years. The third and final year's budget is $55,682. Though the grant money is not enough to start an HIV testing center, a need that has surfaced as more Mayan Guatemalans learn of the disease, the ministry has partnered with a group that offers mobile testing.

Back to other news for May 26, 2006

Adapted from:
Palm Beach Post
05.21.2006; Antigone Barton

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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