Post submitted by former HRC Digital Media Manager Helen Parshall

On National Latinx HIV & AIDS Awareness Day, HRC recognizes the urgent need to address HIV in Latinx communities through access to culturally competent health care. According to alarming data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Latinx people accounted for 25 percent of all new HIV diagnoses in 2015, its most recent data. The CDC also noted a troubling trend -- that HIV “diagnoses increased among Hispanic/Latino gay and bisexual men from 2010 to 2014.”

The theme of this year’s Latinx HIV & AIDS Awareness Day is "Ending HIV is Everyone’s Job," shining a light on the intersectional nature of the work it will take to end the epidemic across all our communities.

“We all have a role to play to end HIV in our communities,” said Luis Mares, Community Mobilization Director at the Latino Commission on AIDS, in a statement. “We seek to bring awareness around taking the HIV test, seeking PrEP, connecting ourselves to care, reaching HIV viral suppression and becoming undetectable.”

While research consistently shows that pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, is a critically important tool to ending the HIV & AIDS epidemic in the U.S., current studies indicate that Latinx people make up just three percent of those receiving the once-daily pill.

These sobering statistics highlight the need for more client-centered HIV programs and services that are culturally and linguistically appropriate for the Latinx community. Francisco Cortes, interim executive director of Galaei and an HRC HIV 360° Fellow alumnus, helped to pilot Project YEAH -- a cohort-based initiative that uses interactive, educational workshops to combat growing HIV rates among LGBTQ youth of color in Philadelphia and provide young people with resources to make decisions about their sexual health. It also uses art to help youth combat some of the cultural factors that contribute to HIV stigma, including homophobia, transphobia and racism.

“Increasing our presence at weekend outreach efforts as well as expanding our office hours are making services more accessible to the surrounding community,” said Cortes. “Because of competent information and our partnerships with accessible PrEP providers, Galaei is also providing the most PrEP referrals in our designated network in the city.”

Check out HRC Foundation and Whitman Walker’s “Safer Sex Guide” and Greater than AIDS’ newest video series "Let's Talk About PrEP!," two important educational resources (available in both English and Spanish) about what you can do to be in the know and work to end the epidemic.

For more information on HRC Foundation’s work to end HIV and HIV-related stigma, click here.

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