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U.S. News

California: AIDS Project Spreads Prevention Message in Watsonville

October 14, 2008

On Friday, HIV prevention workers hosted a health fair targeting Latinos in Watsonville's City Plaza. The event, held ahead of National Latino AIDS Awareness Day, offered free testing, prevention education, and entertainment.

"The goal, besides testing as many people as possible, is to make this a community event, something that's not taboo anymore," said Alicia Sebastian of the Santa Cruz AIDS Project (SCAP).

SCAP's Fernando Veja handed out condoms to attendees, explaining in Spanish how HIV is transmitted and how to avoid contracting it. Discussing safe sex is difficult for many Latinos, said Veja. Language is a barrier, as are sharply defined cultural roles.

Women often do not feel comfortable taking the lead in practicing safe sex, said Veja. "Sometimes there's this machismo thing that men aren't supposed to wear condoms," he noted. "We've also got men coming in straight from Mexico who never had sex education, who don't know what a condom is."

HIV outreach to Latinos is critical given their disproportionate rates of the disease, said Socorro Gutierrez, health services manager for the Santa Cruz County health department. Of the roughly 10 people diagnosed with HIV last year by county health workers, about a third were Latino.

Back to other news for October 2008

Adapted from:
San Jose Mercury News
10.11.2008; Roger Sideman

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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