Washington, DC — Saturday, October 15 is the ninth annual National Latino AIDS Awareness Day (NLAAD). Established in 2003, NLAAD falls on the last day of Hispanic Heritage Month each year and is a grassroots social media campaign aimed at raising awareness of the impact that HIV and AIDS has had and continues to have on the Latino community. This year's theme is "Latinos Unite! Let's stay Healthy! Get Tested for HIV!"
"For the last month, Americans have been celebrating the many positive contributions Latinos have made to our society," said National Minority AIDS Council (NMAC) Deputy Executive Director Daniel C. Montoya. "NLAAD is an opportunity for all of us to consider ways that we can contribute to positive health outcomes in the Latino community. Despite making up just 17 percent of the population, Latinos account for 20 percent of all new HIV infections in the United States. The epidemic is even more severe among gay and bisexual Latinos. For the first time in 2009, the number of infections among gay and bisexual Latino men was higher than those among African American women."
As the fastest growing segment of the population, as well as the largest minority group in the country, the health disparities that persist within the Latino community, especially in relation to HIV and AIDS, demand immediate attention.
"It is critical that we do more to address the needs of this community," continued Montoya. "Latinos face significant barriers to accessing quality health care and prevention services, including socio-economic, cultural and linguistic challenges. These barriers are often intensified among undocumented populations. NMAC is proud to stand with the entire HIV community in commemorating NLAAD and urges all of its Latino brothers and sisters to get tested and get involved. Together, we have the power to end this epidemic."
The National Minority AIDS Council (NMAC) represents a coalition of 3,000 faith based and community based organizations as well as AIDS service organizations advocating and delivering HIV/AIDS services in communities of color nationwide. Since 1987, NMAC has developed leadership in communities of color through a variety of advocacy campaigns, public policy education programs, national conferences, research programs, capacity building, technical assistance and trainings, and digital and electronic resource materials. For more information visit www.nmac.org .