Minnesota: Pawlenty Announces Latino AIDS Awareness Day
October 17, 2006
Gov. Tim Pawlenty declared Sunday Latino AIDS Awareness Day in Minnesota, part of a month-long national testing and awareness campaign. Latinos are disproportionately infected by HIV, said Roy Nelson, state Department of Health's information and media specialist. National Latino AIDS Awareness Day "is to call attention to the impact the disease has had on the Latino community," he said.
In Minnesota, the event's planning committee did not limit activities to just one day, but plans to hold events through October. That message continuity is necessary and helps build trust, said Sara Khalfa, outreach administrator for Southside Community Health Services. The campaign includes community events such as health fairs, free HIV testing and training taught in Spanish, she said.
STD/HIV starter fact courses are also being offered, said Nelson. Latinos frequently miss years of treatment because they have never been tested for HIV, he said. "This group notoriously comes in testing late, sometimes 10 years after they are infected," he said. "Forty-three percent come in with full-blown AIDS."
According to the Health Department, Latinos in Minnesota have an HIV infection rate four times that of whites. There were 377 Latinos with HIV in the state in 2005, when they accounted for 8 percent of diagnoses.
HIV/AIDS information has tended to be in English, so "if you can't read it, you're out in the cold," said Khalfa. However, prevention materials have improved and are now written in more languages, she said.
Cultural differences and immigration status can also be prevention and testing barriers. AIDS is stereotyped as a gay disease, said Erica Torres, La Raza Student Cultural Center events coordinator at the University of Minnesota. "It's not something that is talked about in the community," she said. "It's taboo."
Minnesota Daily (Minneapolis)
10.16.2006; Ashley Wong, University of Minnesota
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.