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Statement by Secretary Thompson
Regarding National Latino AIDS Awareness Day

Date: October 15, 2004
Contact: HHS Press Office
(202) 690-6343

The second annual National Latino AIDS Awareness Day (NLAAD) will take place on October 15. NLAAD is an opportunity for Hispanics to take action against HIV by learning more about the disease and getting counseled and tested for HIV.

A coalition of Latino and other health organizations is working together to organize national and local events across the country that will bring people together in the fight against HIV/AIDS. The events will include public concerts, free HIV testing, fundraisers, and workshops, all designed to raise public awareness about the devastating effects of the pandemic.

HIV and AIDS significantly impact Hispanics, who make up the largest minority group in the country. From 1999-2002 in the 29 U.S. states with longstanding reporting, HIV diagnoses among Hispanics increased 26 percent. Hispanics are more than three times as likely as whites to be diagnosed with AIDS, and AIDS is currently the third leading cause of death for Hispanics ages 35-44.

President George W. Bush continues to devote significant resources to stopping and rolling back the epidemic, and is committed to continued partnering with community- and faith-based organizations that provide services to communities in need. This year, the President has supported reauthorization of the Ryan White CARE Act, which provides support to those most in need, and made another $20 million available to deliver much-needed medication to HIV-positive individuals. Also, the President has requested $17.1 billion across the government to help fight the epidemic in the United States for fiscal year 2005 a 27 percent increase since 2001.

The Department of Health and Human Services is sponsoring a series of health fairs in Latino communities that will tie in with NLAAD. The next fair will be held in Phoenix, Ariz., on Oct. 17, followed by McAllen, Texas, on Oct. 24, Miami, Fla., on Oct. 31, Albuquerque, N.M., on Nov. 7, Dallas, Texas, on Nov. 14, Houston, Texas, on Nov. 21, and Los Angeles, Calif., on Dec. 5.

This year the department is also hosting a Web site devoted to NLAAD at www.omhrc.gov/hivaidsobservances/nlhaad/index.html. This Web site contains information about HIV/AIDS, testing, and vaccine research, as well as a media tool kit to help local groups organize and publicize their own NLAAD. In particular, the site will also include current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) statistics on the epidemic and downloadable PSAs from CDC (titled Paremos el VIH. Empieza TÚ) and other concerned organizations. The messages are designed to heighten awareness of the epidemic among Hispanics and highlight the importance of HIV testing.

The department is pursuing the fight against HIV/AIDS on several fronts. It supports programs for prevention, care, and treatment and emphasizes voluntary HIV counseling and testing for at-risk individuals. Testing can provide early knowledge of HIV status, which can help people in need find medical assistance faster and help to control the spread of the disease. Additionally, the department is heavily committed to finding a vaccine for HIV, which requires community support and volunteers to take part in testing trials. To learn more about HIV/AIDS testing and research, visit www.AIDSinfo.nih.gov.

For more information about HIV/AIDS in the Hispanic community, visit the Office of Minority Health at www.OMHRC.gov and the CDC's National Prevention Information Network at www.cdcnpin.org. You can also find information about NLAAD at www.latinoaids.org/nlaad/2004/home.asp. To find out where you can be tested, visit www.hivtest.org.

The term "Hispanic" includes those individuals who self-identify as "Latino/a" or "Hispanic."

 



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