Kicking HIV in Philly on National Latino AIDS Awareness Day

Kick HIV logo.
Kick HIV logo.

Many of you all may have heard about Grassroot Soccer before. They use the power of soccer to empower and educate African youth. It would be a dream job for someone like myself. I currently play for the Philadelphia Falcons soccer club and have been playing soccer for over 20+ years. The cool thing about playing soccer with the Philadelphia Falcons is that they are very active with social issues like HIV/AIDS.

A few weeks ago I went to my soccer practice and happened to see that there were representatives from Philly Vax who handed out water bottles and other cool merchandise promoting safe sex and information informing us about the trials they are running. It is an amazing feeling to know that my teammates and team are so supportive in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

This year's National Latino AIDS Awareness Day takes place October 9th, 2010 at Capitolo Recreational Center (1000 Federal St, Philadelphia, PA 19147) with a soccer tournament kicking off at 11am, and a Public Health Fair with free food and HIV testing from 1 to 5 PM. This day is a day on which we seek to raise awareness about the impact that HIV/AIDS is having among Latino communities in Philadelphia.

The HIV/AIDS epidemic is a serious threat to the Hispanic/Latino community. Hispanics/Latinos comprise 15% of the U.S. population but accounted for 17% of all new HIV infections occurring in the United States in 2006. During the same year, the rate of new HIV infections among Hispanics/Latinos was 2.5 times that of whites. In 2006, HIV/AIDS was the fourth leading cause of death among Hispanic/Latino men and women aged 35-44 (CDC HIV/AIDS Facts: HIV/AIDS Among Hispanics/Latinos, Updated August 2009.)

Robert playing soccergo.
Robert playing soccer.

In Philadelphia, where the overall HIV rate is 5 times the national average, there were 2,324 Hispanic persons living with HIV/AIDS in Philadelphia (as of December 31, 2009) -- that is 12% of all People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) in Philadelphia. Of these almost 30% are female, and 70% are 40 and older.

For seven years now, a coalition of local community based organizations has come together to promote HIV/AIDS awareness and testing among Philadelphia's Latino community. Building on the success of previous years, we have reached over thousands through street based outreach, PSAs, as well as through print and radio, and our events have reached over 850 people directly. This year the coalition has come together to launch the Philadelphia Latino AIDS Action Network (PLAAN) and to promote a local campaign called "Kick HIV" ("Patea el VIH"). The campaign seeks to promote HIV/AIDS awareness, education and testing among Latinos in Philadelphia.

This year our focus is on promoting HIV/AIDS awareness among South Philadelphia's growing Latino community by hosting a series of friendly soccer matches that will help us draw attention to HIV/AIDS as an important health issue. Over 30 community based organizations will be offering information on other health and social issues of importance to Philadelphia's Latino community; as well as promoting diabetes, high blood pressure, and cholesterol screening, among others.

If you're interested in playing in this tournament you can register here. We hope you will join us on October 9th, 2010!

Send Robert an e-mail.