NCLR PRESIDENT JANET MURGUÍA, U.S. REP. HILDA SOLIS, ACTRESS LUPE ONTIVEROS, AND NATIONAL EXPERTS CONVENED FOR LATINAS AND HIV/AIDS SUMMIT
Long Beach, CA – The National Council of La Raza/California State University, Long Beach (NCLR/CSULB) Center for Latino Community Health, Evaluation and Leadership Training and the Latino Coalition Against AIDS convened the first Latinas and HIV/AIDS Summit on December 1, 2005 - World AIDS Day - to raise awareness of the dramatic increases in Latina HIV infection rates. The event was held at the California State University, Long Beach Student Union Ballroom, and guests included dignitaries such as NCLR President and CEO Janet Murguía, U.S. Representative Hilda Solis (D-CA), and acclaimed actress Lupe Ontiveros (Desperate Housewives).
Hispanics are the fastest-growing group of those infected with HIV. As with many other health issues affecting the Latino community, HIV/AIDS has a disproportionate impact when compared to non-Hispanic Whites, which can be traced to a lack of culturally- and linguistically-appropriate HIV/AIDS prevention information, a high rate of uninsurance, and an overall lack of health-related resources.
In particular, HIV/AIDS is an acute problem for women in the Hispanic community: Latinas now represent 20% of AIDS cases among U.S. women, making Latinas seven times more likely than non-Hispanic Whites to be living with AIDS. In addition, the increase in newly-diagnosed AIDS cases due to heterosexual transmission has risen from 3% to 31% from 1985 to 2003, and although more Hispanic males are infected through sex with other men, overall Hispanics are more likely to be infected through heterosexual contact when compared to other groups.
Furthermore, Hispanics are more likely to have full-blown AIDS within one year of their HIV diagnosis, and are more likely to die faster (within 18 months of diagnosis) when compared to all other racial/ethnic groups. Latinos continue to suffer disproportionately from major complications due to chronic and infectious diseases and lack access to culturally- and linguistically-appropriate quality medical services and health care.
"We will not win the battle against this debilitating disease unless we make it a community priority to educate our youth, their parents, and community leaders about the growing rates of HIV infection and methods of prevention," stated Murguía. "Failure to address this issue will lead to further increases in the rates of HIV and AIDS among Latinos, and will result in an overwhelming health burden for a community already plagued by inadequate access to health care and health-related information."
At the Summit, prominent researchers and leaders in the Hispanic AIDS battlefield presented their work and examined issues related to Latinas who are living with, or who are vulnerable to, HIV. In addition, the Summit addressed HIV on the U.S.-Mexico border, cultural homophobia, risks posed to women through male sexual behaviors, and the sexual and reproductive health behaviors of Latinas.
Prominent experts and HIV/AIDS advocates who spoke at the Summit included:
U.S. Representative Hilda Solis (CA)
Janet Murguía, National Council of La Raza President and CEO
Lupe Ontiveros, Emmy nominee for her role in Desperate Housewives
Dr. Felix Carpio, AltaMed Health Services
Dr. Hector Carrillo, Center for AIDS Prevention Studies, University of California, San Francisco
Dr. Maria Rangel, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Dr. Monica Alonso, Pan American Health Organization
Dr. S. Marie Harvey, University of Oregon
Dr. Britt Rios-Ellis, Director of the NCLR/CSULB Center for Latino Community Health, Evaluation and Leadership Training
Dr. Henry Pacheco, Texas/Oklahoma AIDS Education and Training Center
The participation of researchers, experts, and political and community leaders contributed to greater understanding and visibility of this important issue. Furthermore, the campus setting for the Summit illustrated how this issue is of great importance to the CSULB Latino student body, which represents 24% of total enrollment. Research in 2001 found that more than half of the new Latino cases of HIV infection are among youth 13 to 24 years old. This translates into AIDS being the fourth-leading killer of Latinos in the 24 to 44 age range.
"Through our research and prevention efforts in collaboration with several of our affiliates, we are beginning to understand the many ways in which HIV/AIDS is affecting the Latino community," said Murguía. "However, we need real investment by government, hospitals and clinics, public health organizations, and community-based organizations to get a clearer picture of the rates of infection within our community and to support community-led prevention campaigns."
About the NCLR/CSULB Center for Latino Community Health, Evaluation and Leadership Training:
The NCLR/CSULB Center for Latino Community Health, Evaluation and Leadership Training was inaugurated in June 2005 to create, support, and measure efforts that positively impact the health status and access issues facing underserved Latino communities. The Center combines research on Hispanic health with educational opportunities, hands-on community projects, professional training, and collaboration among corporations, public-sector leadership, grassroots organizations, and academic institutions. The purpose of the Center is to design and implement innovative culturally- and linguistically-appropriate solutions to critical Latino health issues. ( www.csulb.edu/centers/latinohealth and www.nclr.org)
About the Latino Coalition Against AIDS:
The mission of the Latino Coalition Against AIDS (LCAA) is to shape and mobilize a unified community response to the AIDS epidemic in the Latino community. The Coalition develops public and private partnerships to address key public policy issues associated with Latinos and AIDS in Los Angeles County and provides leadership in the development of local, state, and federal legislative responses. ( www.latinoaidscoalition.org)