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State Celebrates Latino AIDS Awareness Day

Health officials are calling on Latinos and health care agencies to work together in curbing this disease - beginning on Wednesday as the state kicks off the first annual National Latino AIDS Awareness Day.

The Latino AIDS Awareness campaign - coinciding with the final day of Hispanic Heritage Month - is sponsored by the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH)'s Division of HIV/AIDS STDs, the National Latino Commission on AIDS and many Community-based organizations and local health departments.

In several Michigan cities and the U.S., Latino and public health leaders will sponsor activities that address the state of AIDS among Latinos in their communities.

"The HIV/AIDS epidemic has had a disproportionate impact on Latinos," said Michigan Surgeon General Dr. Kimberlydawn Wisdom. "Latinos represent approximately 14 percent of the U.S. population - yet they account for roughly 18 percent of all HIV/AIDS cases. In Michigan, Latinos are 3 percent of the total population and comprise 4 percent of the HIV case - there is cause for concern."

As of July 1, 2003, MDCH estimates there are 620 Latinos living with HIV/AIDS in Michigan. While this may appear to be relatively few cases, they are spread out among a small population, resulting in a rate much higher than that among whites (191 per 100,000 compared to only 74 per 100,000 for whites).

In the 2002 Profile of HIV/AIDS in Michigan, MDCH estimated that as many as one out of 390 Latino males and one out of 1,100 Latino females may be HIV-infected.

"There are seven counties in our State with disproportionate rates of HIV/AIDS prevalence among Latinos: Ingham, Kent, Oakland, Ottawa, Van Buren, Washtenaw, and Wayne," said Loretta Davis-Satterla, Director, Division of HIV/AIDS STDs for the Michigan Department of Community Health. "We know that the message of Prevention and Education works."

Events are planned across Michigan and throughout the U.S. to raise awareness among the nation's 39 million Hispanics, the nation's largest minority group. Michael B. Odom of the Midwest AIDS Prevention Project and Cecilia Zavala of the Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation serve as Co-Chairs of the State of Michigan's Planning Committee for National Latino AIDS Awareness Day (NLAAD).

For information regarding NLAAD events in Southwest Michigan, residents are encouraged to contact Juan Billion-Revivera of CARES Southwest Michigan at (269) 806-6055. In the Saginaw-Flint Area, Ricardo Bowden and Rosa Morales of Hearth Home are concentrating their efforts with a special outreach program for Latino Migrant Workers, (989) 686-2181.

A statewide Art Competition for Latino high school students - co-sponsored by Latinos Contra el Sida, a Southeastern Michigan consortium of agencies in Southwest Detroit - will culminate with an art exhibit and reception on the evening of October 15th. Interested students may contact Michael Odom at (248) 545-1435, ext. 107.

Michigan residents who want to join the Latinos AIDS Awareness campaign, can get additional ideas on what to do in their community from the National Latino AIDS Commission website,