Increasing Awareness on National Latino AIDS Awareness Day

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When was the last time you were tested for HIV?

For many of us in the Latino community, talking about AIDS, let alone getting tested regularly for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) like HIV, still comes with feelings of shame and fear. While many Latinos have been personally affected by the disease due to the loss of a loved one or friend, we have ALL been touched by the disease in how we regard it and the assumptions we make of those who live with it. For the record, many people with HIV are living longer, healthier lives than ever before.  For the health and future of our community, it’s time that we begin to really address the issues that have led to unneeded fear about HIV and stop reinforcing stigmas that further its spread. 

Here are some truths: HIV/AIDS remains a serious epidemic — Latinos are disproportionately affected by HIV. In the U.S., there are more than 1.1 million people living with HIV/AIDS, including approximately 220,000 Latinos. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Latinos account for 20 percent of new HIV infections and contract HIV at nearly three times the rate of non-Latino whites, making HIV/AIDS the fourth-largest killer of Latinos aged 35 to 44 in the United States. 

On this final day of Hispanic Heritage Month and on National Latino AIDS Awareness Day, we call on Latinos to be stronger stewards of their health by getting tested and learning more about HIV. 

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