Happy National Latino AIDS Awareness Day!

Posted on 10/15/2012 @ 07:43 PM

GET TESTED, BE SAFE.

Did you know that HIV/AIDS disproportionately affects Latinos? In fact, in 2008, Hispanics/Latinos accounted for more than 19% of the 42,439 new diagnoses of HIV infection in the 37 states and 5 US dependent areas with confidential name-based HIV infection reporting. The rate of new HIV infections among Hispanic/Latino men is more than three times that of white men.

As the number of people living with HIV/AIDS continues to increase, reaching individuals at risk for HIV/AIDS with culturally competent and linguistically appropriate prevention education, HIV testing and treatment is critical. Testing is the essential first step in linking people with HIV to medical care and ongoing support to help them establish and maintain safer behaviors.

In celebration of National Latino AIDS Awareness Day, AIDS.gov wrote the following blog:

AIDS.gov Observes National Latino AIDS Awareness Day: Fostering Communication and Using New Media throughout the Years

By Miguel Gomez, Director, AIDS.gov, and Senior Communications Advisor, Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

As we approach National Latino AIDS Awareness Day (NLAAD), I am reminded of work I began in 1991 when I worked full-time with the National Council of La Raza to develop technical assistance for HIV programs serving Latinos.

The impact of HIV on Latinos was profound in the early 1990s. In 1990, according to CDC, the HIV death rate for men aged 25-44 was twice as high for Hispanics as the rate for white men. In particular, among men of Cuban and Puerto Rican origin, HIV infection was the leading cause of death, accounting for approximately 40% of all deaths of Hispanics aged 25-44. HIV death rates were also substantially higher for black and Hispanic women than for women of white and other racial/ethnic groups.

Today, more than 20 years later, HIV continues to have a significant impact on this group, but there is great reason to feel hopeful, particularly with the scientific advances discussed at this summer’s XIX International AIDS Conference that can lead us to an AIDS-free generation.

Each year during Hispanic Heritage Month, NLAAD is observed on October 15 to acknowledge and address this disparity. This year marks the tenth national observance of NLAAD and we at AIDS.gov have been blogging and using new media in support of NLAAD for several of those years. We want to remind our readers of some of our past blog posts addressing the impact of HIV on Hispanic and Latino communities.

In these posts, we’ve heard from many Federal and community leaders about the importance of increased awareness, testing and linkages to care for Hispanic and Latino populations. We’ve also talked and heard about how new media has become a critical part of strategic efforts to reach Hispanics and Latinos with prevention, care and treatment messages.

Here’s a selection of our NLAAD blog posts from years past:

With this year’s observance, we encourage our readers to use new media to join and enrich the conversation on and around NLAAD. Use the hashtag #NLAAD to learn what others are saying on Twitter, subscribe to the AIDS.gov blog and other blogs for regular updates on this and other important issues, post messages on Facebook and other social network sites, and share the HIV/AIDS locator widget to tell someone about HIV testing nearby. We at AIDS.gov will continue to blog about the HIV/AIDS Awareness Days and the use of new media to support the key messages of these observances.

La Voz de los Líderes: Alexandra Cruz's High Hopes for the Immigration Summit

By Jossie Flor Sapunar on 10/01/2012 @ 05:09 PM

Written by: Alexandra Cruz

Living in Los Angeles, California, a place where immigration is always news-worthy, it’s unavoidable to not get wrapped in conversations of immigration reform. This whirlwind of policies, laws, promises, and ideas has become an issue too complicated even for those who are going through the process. In a city of glitz and glamour, the topic of immigration is alive and well—gossip amongst comadres and compadres about these issues is typical; especially in Spanish-language media, where radio hosts report to their listeners locations of migra raids.

When I ask my father for the reason for uprooting my mother, brother, and sister, he responds by saying he wants his children to be leaders of society, clearly stating, “I want you to be educated. This opportunity of obtaining education is the only possible inheritance I can give you and your siblings.” It boggles my mind to think that education for his children was the only motivation for his drastic sacrifice. When he left Guatemala, he knew he would be a lost cause, unable to build a future at thirty-five in another country, but he was able to set aside his goals so that his children could have the potential for success.

Now look at my family almost twenty-five years later and explore the results of his sacrifice. My brother is a graduate from Georgetown University and president of a non-profit organization in Los Angeles. My sister—an honor roll graduate from the California State University, Los Angeles, and working as a child social worker for the county. Lastly myself—entering my final year as an undergraduate from the University of California, Riverside and interning at Washington D.C. with LULAC, the most prestigious Latino organization in the country.

For those attending the Immigration Summit on October 4th, I urge you to come with the mentality of helping and bettering the future of our society. We need to look forward and figure out what would be the best route for comprehensive immigration reform so that everyone may have the same prospects for success that I have had.

My hope for the Immigration Summit is to clear out biased political ideas and to set in motion a clear route towards comprehensive immigration reform. Undocumented citizens could then concentrate on academic achievement without the fear of deportation and the inability of continuing their education, emotions that have vexed my fellow classmates who lack citizenship and yet still hope to be successful. If we can find a solution that allows the youth to achieve their highest potential within society, we have found then a solution to all this chaos, in my idealistic mind. This is my hope as a first generation, Californian, Guatemalan-American, female, and LULAC intern. I am a product of the greatest sacrifice; let our future generation be a product of our compromise and sacrifice as well.

GOP Seeks to "Woo" the Hispanic Electorate

By Jossie Flor Sapunar on 08/29/2012 @ 03:30 PM

Previous Republican presidential candidate John McCain with LULAC National President Margaret Moran at the 2008 LULAC Convention.

As the GOP Convention continues to gain momentum, the Hispanic community has its ears perked high. We have indeed noticed that the Republican Party is trying to appeal to Latinos—just check out their list of speakers for the RNC.

On the first day of the convention, Reverend Sammy Rodriguez of the Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference gave the closing benediction. Puerto Rican Governor Luis Fortuño is speaking for three days, and so is his wife, Lucé Vela. Senate Republican candidate Ted Cruz (who we blogged about before) and Puerto Rican Zoraida Fonalledas are addressing attendees today while Governor Susana Martinez of New Mexico will speak tomorrow. In addition, Senator Marco Rubio will provide remarks on Thursday before Mitt Romney formally accepts the GOP nomination for president.

Oh, they’ve got our attention.

The arsenal of elected Latino officials is a clear message to the Hispanic electorate: the GOP is Latino-friendly. LULAC Executive Director Brent Wilkes, however, believes that Republicans will have a hard time winning over the Hispanic electorate when the party has embraced policies that voters perceive as punitive.

He pointed to the platform the party will ratify today. It calls for the federal government to complete a fence along the border with Mexico; would deny federal funds to state universities that allow illegal immigrants to pay the discounted in-state tuition; and requires all U.S. businesses to use the government’s E-Verify program that checks for immigration status.

President Obama with LULAC National President Margaret Moran at the 2008 LULAC Convention.

In addition, the platform puts the party on record as opposing “any forms of amnesty” for illegal immigrants, instead endorsing “humane procedures to encourage illegal aliens to return home voluntarily,” also known as self-deportation.

It’s a hardline approach, Wilkes said, that makes it hard for Hispanics to embrace the GOP. And, he said, it’s a departure from past platforms and the attitude of President George W. Bush, who tried to seek immigration reforms and was rewarded at the polls. Bush, he said, received an estimated 44 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2004, while Sen. John McCain garnered only 31 percent in 2008.

Wilkes said that Romney “doesn’t have a right to ask for Latino votes with policies” like those in GOP platform.

The other option for voters would be Obama and the Democratic Party. Even with President Obama’s recent executive action for childhood arrivals, there is disappointment that he did not deliver on the immigration reform promises he made to voters in 2008.

Latinos will just have to decide which party’s candidates best satisfy their individual needs when they vote in November.

LULAC Supports Blocking of Anti-Immigrant Laws

By Jossie Flor Sapunar on 08/22/2012 @ 05:00 PM

Thousands marched in a rally in Dallas, Texas, for comprehensive immigration reform, for which LULAC will tirelessly advocate.

LULAC supports the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit to block most of Alabama and Georgia’s anti-immigrant laws since they would support a state-sponsored culture of blatant intolerance that would criminalize immigrants. The court also blocked the registration and contracts provisions found in Alabama's law, HB 56. In Georgia, the court determined that a section criminalizing transporting or harboring of immigrants was not permissible.

“We are encouraged to see the court send a strong message to Alabama, Georgia and other states against anti-immigrant laws in this country that propagates freedom and acceptance,” said LULAC National President Margaret Moran.

The courts also determined that section 28 of Alabama's law which requires the immigration verification of newly enrolled K – 12 students, violates the Equal Protection Clause, and could interfere with children's constitutional right to education. Since one-in-four (24.7%) public elementary school students are Hispanic, upholding this law would have been detrimental not only for the lives of the students affected, but also for the future of the nation. With over 50 million people, Latinos are the fastest-growing and largest minority group and play an important role in the future of the country.

“We are thrilled that students are returning to school, where they will continue their education, and LULAC will still challenge the “show me your papers” provision, since they cannot be enforced without racial profiling,” declared President Moran.

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