October 15, 2010
Today is National Latino AIDS Awareness day. The AIDS epidemic is just as serious in the Latino community as it is in other communities in our country. Since the early 1980's, 85,000 Latino men and women have died from AIDS. According to the CDC, Hispanics represent approximately 16 percent of the U.S. population yet they comprise 17% of annual new infections, 22% of AIDS diagnoses in the latest year of reporting and account for an estimated 18 percent of people living with HIV in the U.S. (These numbers are a correction from my earlier report. A representative from the CDC contacted me via email with the new figures.)
In addition, a recently released CDC report found that approximately one in five (19%) men who have sex with men (MSM) in 20 major U.S. cities was infected with HIV. Moreover, 46% of Hispanic/Latino MSM were unaware of their infection, compared to 26% of white MSM. Latino health advocacy groups are struggling to disseminate information and provide adequate care for their constituents. Alicia Wilson, Executive Director of La Clinica Del Pueblo, says, "After losing critical CDC funding we have struggled getting additional resources, especially in the areas of Counseling and Testing, as well as in Prevention services for Latinos MSM."
La Clinica del Pueblo, a staple of health care in the Latino community in DC, have been voicing concerns over funding for programs aimed at helping the Latino population fight AIDS. But there is a discrepancy in the numbers. A press release from LCDP stated that even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) categorized HIV funding for Latinos at risk as one of their high priorities, seven organizations that target Latinos were covered by the grants recently allocated by the CDC to 133 agencies for more than $250 million dollars. These funds will provide HIV prevention and capacity building services for the next five years in the U.S but seven organizations represent just 5% of the total amount of funds given out. The main concern is that many Latinos-at-risk are going to have limited alternatives and tools to protect themselves from contracting HIV.
The CDC wants you to know that 31 organizations were funded not seven, which are proportional to the Latino burden of the epidemic, since those organizations represent 23% of CBOs funded under this announcement, and Latinos comprise 21% of AIDS diagnoses in 2008. The CDC added , "While there will always be greater needs than there are resources, CDC has taken extensive steps to ensure funding matches the epidemic, and funding for our HIV community-based organizations (CBOs) is decided upon via a highly competitive selection process approximately every five years"
In observance of NLAAD, several activities will occur in the city.
FREE Charlas (information sessions) about HIV and STDs and FREE HIV Testing:
La Clinica's main site at 2831 15th St., NW, Washington, DC
9:00 am-5:00 pm.
La Clínica's Mpodérate! Youth Center, 3055 Mt. Pleasant Street, Washington, DC
Noon - 5:00 pm.
On a separate but related note:
The Latino GLBT History Project and the DC Mayor's Office on Latino Affairs (OLA) will host a reception that will feature the exhibit Heroes Latinos LGBTQ from 6:30pm to 8:30pm at the DC Center 1318 U St. NW, Washington, DC. The 'Heroes' is a collection of 80 photos of leaders of the DC area by photographer Kevin Kenner. During the reception, they will honor six LGBTQ activists for their contributions to the Latino youth community. The exhibit will be on display from October 15 to November 15, 2010 in the offices of the DC Center which is located at 1318 U St. NW, Washington, DC 20009. Admission Free. For more information please visit www.LatinoGLBTHistory.org
Watch James Albino, from the Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP) discuss the significance of Latino heath and the National AIDS Strategy in the video.
Do you like reading local HIV/AIDS news? Click subscribe at the top of this page to receive email alerts when more stories are published in this column.
Get tested. Get care. Get involved.