Michigan Recognizes Fifth Annual National Latino AIDS Awareness Day In Michigan

Contact: T.J. Bucholz (517) 241-2112
Agency: Community Health

October 15, 2007

Michigan will recognize October 15 as the fifth annual National Latino AIDS Awareness Day (NLAAD) in Michigan. The national theme for this year's Latino AIDS Awareness Day is "Despierta! Toma Control! Hazte la Prueba del VIH! Wake Up! Take Control! Take the HIV Test! National Latino AIDS Awareness Day is observed on the final day of Hispanic Heritage Month.

The Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) and Michigan's Latino AIDS Advisory Committee once again call on community-based organizations and local health departments to work together to prevent the further spread of HIV/AIDS.

The HIV/AIDS epidemic has had a disproportionate impact on Latinos. MDCH estimates 610 Latinos live with HIV/AIDS in Michigan. While this number may seem relatively small, it is spread out among a small population. The prevalence rate for Latinos is 165 per 100,000 compared to 78 per 100,000 for whites. As of April 1, 2007, five counties in Michigan have a prevalence rate for Hispanics that are higher than the overall statewide rate: Ingham (148); Kent (219); Oakland (159); Washtenaw (204); and Wayne (210). These rates are higher than the previous year.

"The early detection of HIV is vital in our fight against this disease," said Janet Olszewski, MDCH Director. "Taking Control, getting tested and knowing their status could save their lives. With communities of color being disproportionately represented in this pandemic, and with Latinos having the second highest HIV/AIDS case rate in Michigan, it is critical that we educate and encourage Latinos to get tested for HIV."

"With Latinos being two and a half (2 ½) times more likely to be infected with HIV than whites and, with Latinos continuing to get tested later in their illness than whites, it becomes extremely important to reach out to the Latino community and encourage them to get tested," said Jean Chabut, Deputy Director of the MDCH Public Health Administration. "The Latino community continues to face challenging issues in their fight against HIV/AIDS, such as stigma, lack of access to adequate preventive care, and high poverty levels which contribute to the impact of HIV/AIDS. Prevention education along with encouraging realistic lifestyle and behavioral changes are still our best weapons to eradicate this disease."

Activities in Michigan began September 21st with a kick-off meeting and luncheon held at the English Inn in Eaton Rapids. This kick-off begins a month long series of activities designed to increase awareness of HIV/AIDS in the Latino community and to encourage those at risk to get tested. Activities planned this year include: bi-lingual HIV counseling and testing, distribution of bi-lingual HIV prevention materials, health fairs, radio interview, display tables, and State and local proclamations. Isabel Cuevas of AIDS Partnership Michigan serves as the chair of the Latino AIDS Advisory Committee.

For more information regarding Michigan NLAAD events, please contact Ligia Romero at (517) 394-3719 ext. 17 or the HIV/AIDS hotline at 1-800-872-AIDS.