October 26, 2012
Latino Coalition Launches Action Agenda to Fight HIV/AIDS
by Trenton Straube
Want to achieve an AIDS-free generation? The National Latino AIDS Action Network shows you how.
Everybody wants to end AIDS, right? But every community faces its own unique challenges. To address the U.S. epidemic through the cultural viewpoint of Latinos, a coalition called the National Latino AIDS Action Network (NLAAN) has released the “National Latino/Hispanic HIV/AIDS Action Agenda.”
The report sets priorities, and it outlines specific recommendations for community members, health and social services providers, state and local health departments, federal government agencies, private industries and local businesses, elected and appointed officials, academic and research institutions, media outlets and more. Suggestions range from personal recommendations—“Get tested and know your HIV status”—to specific governmental policies: “Eliminate the cap on Medicaid funding for people living with HIV/AIDS in Puerto Rico and other dependent areas.”
The agenda inspires Latinos to reduce new infections, improve the health of those living with the virus and reduce HIV-related health disparities—goals that align with the National HIV/AIDS Strategy. In the process, the report offers an overview of the HIV epidemic and several socioeconomic issues as they pertain to Latinos in the United States.
Some of the numbers: At more than 50.5 million people, Latinos comprise 16 percent of the U.S. population; however, they represent 20 percent of new HIV cases in the country. One in five Latinos living with HIV in the United States are unaware of their status, and of those who do know they’re positive, only 26 percent have the virus under control. In addition, 36 percent of Latinos test positive late in the course of the disease (compared with 31 percent of African Americans and 32 percent of whites). HIV is three times more common among Latino men than white men, and it’s four times higher among Latino women than white women.
To put these numbers in a context, the report looks at issues such as socioeconomic status, the workforce, immigration legislation, health care access, education, voting, stigma, discrimination and even same-sex marriage—noting, in regards to the last topic, that despite a reputation of being homophobic, U.S. Latinos are slightly more likely than the general public to support marriage equality.
NLAAN developed the report through a series of roundtable discussions in 11 cities in the United States and Puerto Rico, through seminars, summits and conferences and through web-based assessments of community needs.
“The success of the agenda,” the authors of the report write, “will depend on how effectively the items outlined in this document are actively incorporated into mainstream conversations and policy initiatives.” To that end, NLAAN is planning to launch the agenda with a series of events across the nation, leading up to World AIDS Day, December 1. Events are planned in Seattle, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Denver, Philadelphia, Fort Lauderdale, San Juan, New York, Chicago and others.
Go to nlaan.org/theagenda to download the report and for more information.
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