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Statement from Dr. Howard Koh, Assistant Secretary for Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Regarding National Latino AIDS Awareness Day

Thursday, October 15, 2009 General News J E 4
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WASHINGTON, Oct. 15 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- "United We Can Stop HIV and Prevent AIDS. Unidos Podemos Detener el VIH y Prevenir el SIDA." That is the message for the seventh annual National Latino AIDS Awareness Day, which our nation observes today, October 15. This day is an opportunity for us to honor the dedicated family members, neighbors, coworkers, spiritual and community leaders, people living with HIV and AIDS, educators, health care workers, and advocates who want to stop the spread of HIV and to link people living with HIV to treatment and care. We must all work together to tackle the disproportionate impact of HIV and AIDS on Latino communities in the U.S.

The number of people living with HIV and AIDS in the U.S. continues to grow, especially among Latino and other minority communities. While Hispanics represent approximately 13 percent of the U.S. population, they account for an estimated 18 percent of people living with HIV in the U.S. Most new infections among Hispanic men (72 percent) occur among men who have sex with men (MSM), according to the most recent CDC estimates. In addition, the rate of new HIV infections among Hispanic women is nearly four times that of white women.(1)

The Latino Commission on AIDS and the Hispanic Federation, in partnership with a variety of faith and community organizations, started National Latino AIDS Awareness Day (NLAAD) to provide Latino communities with an opportunity to encourage HIV prevention, testing, and treatment. This observance gives us an opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to addressing HIV within the Latino community. From planning a National AIDS Strategy, to reauthorizing the Ryan White Care Act, to launching the CDC's Act Against AIDS campaign, we will continue to make HIV prevention a priority in the U.S. Today, I encourage Americans to take an HIV test. To find your local HIV testing center, send a text message with your ZIP code to "KNOWIT" (566948) or visit www.HIVtest.org.

We must recognize the individual needs of specific communities, and reach beyond the borders of our own communities in order to respond to HIV as a nation. In recognition of NLAAD, let us commit to continuing our efforts in the Latino community and beyond to promote HIV testing and link people who test positive to crucial treatment and care.

"United We Can Stop HIV and Prevent AIDS. Unidos Podemos Detener el VIH y Prevenir el SIDA."

To learn more visit www.AIDS.gov and www.nlaad.org.

Note: All HHS press releases, fact sheets and other press materials are available at http://www.hhs.gov/news.

(1) http://www.cdc.gov/nchhstp/newsroom/docs/FastFacts-Latinos-FINAL508COMP.pdf

SOURCE U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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