NEW YORK, NY, OCTOBER 15, 2012 – To organize an effective response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic among Hispanic/Latino communities in the continental United States, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, community leadership is emphasizing the urgent need for HIV education, awareness, and testing.
National Latino AIDS Awareness Day (NLAAD), held each year on the last day of Hispanic Heritage Month, represents a call to action for Hispanics/Latinos to protect their lives and the lives of those they love by getting tested and learning about HIV. NLAAD’s theme for this year, “Hispanics United to End AIDS”, integrates efforts on raising HIV/AIDS awareness, promotion of HIV testing, as well as prevention and education as we strive for the dream of an AIDS-free generation.
NLAAD events are organized annually on October 15th in more than 200 cities and 45 states across the country and US territories. NLAAD was established in 2003 to act as a community mobilization catalyst to prevent the spread of HIV infection, promote HIV testing opportunities, connect people to care, and hold activities that raise HIV/AIDS awareness and other health conditions impacting Hispanics/Latinos.
Tony Ochoa, Program Manager of National Latino AIDS Awareness Day shared, “Passion, collaboration, and commitment allow us to have a strong unified voice through NLAAD. The partnerships with over 400 organizations to host hundreds of events represent a sign of hope.”
“We are honored to be part of National Latino AIDS Awareness Day. Each October 15 NLAAD calls for solidarity, unity, and action for Hispanic/Latino communities impacted by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. We must stand together to address the health needs of our communities,” stated Dr. Elena Rios, President of the National Hispanic Medical Association.
New York City Council Speaker, Christine C. Quinn shared, “No New Yorker can escape the possibility of contracting HIV/AIDS regardless of age, income level, sexual identity, race or nationality. We must take every opportunity to raise awareness and that’s why today's National Latino AIDS Awareness Day is important, not just to Latinos but to all New Yorkers. The more we talk about HIV, the more infections we can prevent and lessen the stigma that persists for those who are living with the disease. We must work together to ensure that everyone gets tested, and knows their status.”
“The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene are honored to recognize the Ten Year Anniversary of National Latino AIDS Awareness Day. Today, on October 15th, it is important to mobilize all communities to get tested for HIV. As important as getting testing is, it is only the first step, equally important is getting into treatment immediately, if infected, and staying in care,” stated Dr. Monica Sweeney, Assistant Commissioner, The NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
“I think the biggest success of NLAAD is that it has forced us away from our silos and pushed us to break down bridges and work together as one community. As One community fighting for our fair share of additional resources, equal representation and access. It forced us to talk with one another and acknowledge that we ARE one community and that unless we ACT as one, in unity, we effectively remain VOICELESS” stated Jose Calderon, President of the Hispanic Federation and co-organizer of NLAAD.
The President of the Latino Commission on AIDS, Guillermo Chacón, stated “Our community partnership will overcome all barriers of accessing health care and HIV services for our communities. We need to come together to increase HIV testing and AIDS awareness. We must encourage everyone to get tested. HIV does not discriminate.”