Why do we have a NYS Latino HIV Testing Month?
HIV has had a devastating and disproportionate impact in our Latino/Hispanic communities. It is estimated that approximately 200,000 Latinos are currently living with HIV/AIDS in the United States. Sadly, over 40% of those infected continue to learn of their HIV status late in the disease, with some receiving an AIDS diagnosis within a year of their HIV diagnosis. In New York State, Latinos represent 17.0% of the population but account for 32.0% (40,400) of people living HIV/AIDS This does NOT have to be. Don't delay getting tested! Finding out about HIV infection in an early stage, gives individuals the best chance to benefit from better health care and social support services.
To address this issue, in 2005, the Hispanic Federation, Latino Commission on AIDS and the New York State Department of Health AIDS Institute designated July as the Latino HIV Testing Month (LHTM). LHTM initiative its a campaign that seeks to respond to the HIV crisis by uniting local and state health departments, 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.
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, merchants, other agencies serving Latinos. There is no limit.
Enhance the importance of HIV testing among Latino New Yorkers;
Destigmatize AIDS and HIV testing in Latino communities across New York State;
Draw attention to HIV/AIDS among Latino as a local, regional and national issue, not just a problem for one community;
Advocate for LHTM to become a nationwide campaign, in order to reach more Latino communities across the country and territories.
LHTM Steering Committtee:
A steering committee convened by the Hispanic Federation, Latino Commission on AIDS, the New York State Department of Health AIDS Institute, and New York City Department of Health and Mental Health 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.