Latino HIV Testing Month (LHTM), is a NYS initiative that was implemented in 2005 by the Hispanic Federation, Latino Commission on AIDS and the New York State Department of Health AIDS Institute. It is a campaign that seeks to respond to the HIV crisis by uniting Latino leaders and community-based organizations in New York State to act and fight against HIV through increased HIV testing. LHTM promotes HIV testing and sponsors diverse prevention activities that target and reach Latino families in their specific communities.
Concept: The National HIV Testing Day initiative, created by the National Association of People with AIDS (NAPWA) 15 years ago, occurs every year on June 27th. LHTM organizers utilize this day as springboard to encourage agencies that serve Latinos to continue HIV testing, as well as STI screening through the whole month of July. HIV and non-HIV related agencies collaborate with each other to host HIV testing events throughout the different Latino communities in NYC's five boroughs, Long Island, Westchester, Amsterdam, Buffalo, Syracuse and other parts of the state. The collaboration could be between HIV related organizations and civic centers, churches, merchantsâ€¦ there is no limit.
Objectives: The ultimate goals of LHTM are to increase and normalize HIV testing in all the Latino communities throughout the state of New York but focusing more on Latinas, youth, immigrants and those deemed at risk; de-stigmatize AIDS and HIV testing in Latino communities across the state; draw attention to HIV/AIDS among Latinos as a statewide issue, not just a series of local problems; advocate for LHTM to become a nationwide phenomenon, in order to reach Latino communities across the country; and most importantly, provide proper referrals to health care and mental health care, cases management and other services to those testing positives.
Agency Participation and Activities Held: The LHTM initiative encourages the collaboration of different type of agencies and settings so HIV testing is just part of many other activities and not the only activities. Health fairs offering STI, hypertension and diabetes screening; cultural events, skits/plays, community-wide forums and church meetings are settings where the community gathers and where HIV testing could be provided. Latinos Unidos Contra el SIDA (LUCES), a coalition of 25 Latino HIV/AIDS service providers, and other non-LUCES members have played a critical role in promoting LHTM in their communities and in establishing unique partnerships among them to create successful HIV testing events.
LHTM Steering Committee: A steering committee convened by the Hispanic AIDS Forum, Latino Commission on AIDS and the New York State Department of Health AIDS Institute, serves as the primary organizers of the LHTM. The Committee members encourage the collaboration among HIV and non-HIV related agencies to organize HIV testing and educational activities in their respective communities.