LatinaLista — Today is National Latino Aids Awareness Day (NLAAD).
While Latinos account for 14 percent of the U.S. population, we unfortunately represent 22 percent of new HIV/AIDS diagnosis in 2006. Among Latinas, the statistics are increasingly worse.
What was once thought as a gay man's disease has sprung up among heterosexual men, women and teens. Aside from male-to-male sexual contact, AIDS can be transmitted through infected needles for sharing drugs and from sex with a high-risk partner.
This year's observance of NLAAD carries the theme: United We Can: HIV/AIDS Stops Here! It is meant as a call to action for those Latinos who practice unsafe sex or have drug habits to get tested for HIV and take a stand.
One of the major reasons HIV/AIDS has disproportionately affected the Latino community is because of the stigma we still associate with the disease. Because of the stigma, people are afraid to learn about the disease and its symptoms, let alone test for it.
To kick-off National Latino AIDS Awareness Day 2008, Miss Universe, Dayana Mendoza, took an OraQuick ADVANCEÂ® test to demonstrate her commitment to fighting HIV/AIDS.
â€œSince the dawn of the epidemic, the HIV/AIDS crisis in the U.S. has disproportionately affected the Hispanic/Latino community and to this day the rate of HIV infection in this community continues to rise,â€ said Dennis de Leon, president of the Latino Commission on AIDS. â€œNational Latino AIDS Awareness Day is an opportunity to actively change this epidemic helping members of the Latino community learn their status earlier to help prevent the further spread of HIV."
The only way to learn their status is for people to get tested. As mentioned before, the embarrassment alone deters people from finding out, but nowadays, it can also be the expense of a doctor's visit, along with, the test.
For that reason, one company dedicated to creating tests that rapidly lets a person know whether or not they're HIV positive is partnering with the Latino Commission on AIDS to get these self-help test kits out to the people who need to know.
OraSure Technologies is giving educational materials and providing OraQuick Advance Rapid HiV-1/2 Antibody Test kits to the Latino Commission on AIDS for distribution across the country at community testing sites and events.
With a simple swab of the mouth, a person can privately know whether or not they are HIV positive in just 20 minutes. Once a person's HIV status is revealed then that person can start making the right decisions for a healthy and safe future.
HIV/AIDS is an epidemic that is preventable. All it takes is people to assume responsibility for their actions, get educated and test for the disease.
And the rest of us to stop blaming and shaming those people with HIV/AIDS, and instead, encourage them to seek help.