McHenry County Department of Health recognizes Oct. 15 as National Latino AIDS Awareness Day, a campaign aimed at engaging the Hispanic/Latino community in promoting HIV awareness through testing, prevention and education.
This year’s theme is “Hispanics United to End AIDS,” according to a press release issued by Debra Quackenbush, community information coordinator for the McHenry County Department of Health, 2200 N. Seminary Ave., Woodstock.
MCDH offers free and confidential HIV testing and counseling for high risk individuals in less than an hour, as well as testing for sexually transmitted infections (STI) for those at risk, for a fee. Call 815-334-4500 for an appointment.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates more than 200,000 Latinos have been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. The rates of new infections among Latino men were more than double that of white men. The rate of HIV infection among Latino women was nearly four times that of white women.
As of December 2011, 123 people in McHenry County are living with HIV/AIDS (51 HIV, 72 AIDS).
Some steps that Latinos can take include:
- Getting tested to find out if you are HIV positive.
- Seek early medical care if you are HIV positive to protect yourself and your partner.
- Protect yourself and others from HIV through safe sex practices.
- Seek education about HIV.
The CDC states the impact of HIV on Hispanics/Latinos is not directly related to race or ethnicity, but rather to harsh realities and challenges faced by some communities, including lower awareness of HIV status, poverty, access to care, stigma, migration acculturation (the process of adopting the cultural traits or social patterns of another group) and homophobia.
Visit www.actagainstaids.org to get the facts about HIV. For more information, call MCDH at 815-334-4500.