About AIDS

Latino AIDS: 'Open Your Eyes' October 15

For the last several weeks, the nation has been observing Hispanic Heritage Month. The last day of the celebration – Friday, October 15 – will be devoted to the second National Latino AIDS Awareness Day.

This year, the sponsoring Latino Commission on AIDS has chosen as its theme "Abre Los Ojos: El VIH No Tiene Fronteras" (Open Your Eyes: HIV Has No Borders). In promoting AIDS awareness, the goal is to get people of all colors – but especially Latinos and Latinas – to "open their eyes" to the impact of HIV/AIDS in Hispanic communities.

Latinos may come from many countries, but regardless of those multiple origins, the commission hopes to achieve some commonality among Spanish-speakers nationwide:

1) to achieve a united voice for awareness and response,

2) to demand access to care regardless of immigration status,

3) to confront the stigmas of HIV/AIDS and sexual orientation, and

4) to talk frankly about sexuality and drug use.

The commission also recognizes the need for effective leadership. NLAAD's second goal is to open the eyes of elected and appointed leaders – political, civic, religious, celebrity, and media – so they, too, can become partners in addressing this health crisis.

Nationally, HIV/AIDS hits Hispanics at a rate of about double their representation in the general population. Austin, fortunately, has fared a little better: It strikes at about the same rate as population representation, as around one in five poz people is Latino. That percentage, however, keeps inching upward, and Latinas – along with black women – are disproportionately represented among all women.

Knowing what we do today about the disease, some would say that HIV/AIDS is an "optional epidemic" that doesn't have to continue. Stopping HIV's further spread, however, requires both awareness and honest acknowledgement of the problem and committed leadership. Here's hoping that NLAAD helps promote both.

For more information about NLAAD, go to www.latinoaids.org.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle