A month ago on the 15th, we observed Hispanic Heritage Month and National Latinx AIDS Awareness Day. We want to share what we heard from Luis Mares, L.M.S.W., the Director of Community Mobilization at The Latino Commission on AIDS about the Latinx community and HIV, the upcoming observance of World AIDS Day on December 1, and the importance of knowledge in the fight to end the HIV epidemic.
Luis shared that knowledge is a powerful tool in the fight against HIV and AIDS. That’s why, every year, The Latino Commission on AIDS provides information, resources, and HIV test kits to communities and organizations. This knowledge improves not only the health of the community, but also helps to reduce the stigma about people living with HIV.
The Latinx community has been affected by HIV in a very disproportionate way, even though this community represents 18.4% of the total U.S. population. In 2019, out of the 36,801 new cases of HIV in the United States and its Territories, over a quarter were among Hispanic/Latinx individuals, according to the CDC’s HIV Surveillance Report. “In order to create and sustain optimal health for all people living with HIV and be able to prevent new HIV cases, we need to create equitable access to prevention, treatment, and care,” stated Guillermo Chacón, President of the Latino Commission on AIDS and founder of the Hispanic Health Network. “Ending the HIV epidemic in the U.S. and Puerto Rico relies on a robust community-based approach, an integrated health care system that is free of stigma, and equitable access to comprehensive health care coverage and support services, particularly housing for people living with and vulnerable to HIV. For many in the Hispanic/Latinx communities and other communities of color, equity is important to eradicate the giant impact that HIV has had in our communities.”
Latinx AIDS Awareness Day and World AIDS Day are ways to discuss the barriers that communities have in addressing HIV and HIV stigma. Forty years ago, the first five cases of what later became known as AIDS were reported by the CDC. Then, no one knew what AIDS was. We can compare that to where we are now—we have different medications, and it’s very easy to control the virus now if people with HIV remain on treatment. During those uncertain times 40 years ago, no one would have thought that eventually there would be so many different options, including a once-a-month injectable HIV treatment. It’s important to see the progress that we have made and the progress that will continue. People need to know that if they have HIV that they can live a normal life and be healthy if they remain on treatment—that didn’t exist 40 years ago.
See The Latino Commission on AIDS website for more information and resources on HIV education, trainings, and programs.
We encourage you to also share the following information and resources in your communications and activities:
- The national Ready, Set, PrEP program provides free PrEP medication to those who qualify.
- The HIV Testing Sites & Care Services Locator uses your ZIP code to help you find conveniently located services for HIV testing, care, and treatment (including access to PrEP), housing, mental health/substance use, and family planning.
- The Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America initiative seeks to reduce the number of new HIV transmissions in the United States by 75% by 2025, and then by at least 90% by 2030.