Today October 15th is both the last day of Hispanic Heritage Month and National Latino AIDS Awareness Day (NLAAD). In 2003, NLAAD was established in response to the impact of HIV and AIDS on Hispanic/Latino communities nationwide. NLAAD is a national community mobilization and social marketing campaign that unites the Hispanic/Latino community in efforts to raise HIV awareness, promotion of HIV testing, prevention and education, in addition to other critical health issues such as viral hepatitis, sexually transmitted infections and tuberculosis.
NLAAD is implemented by a network of many organizations including the Latino Commission on AIDS (LCOA) , The Hispanic Federation and many other partners. Over the years, the NLAAD network has developed many new media resources to support our key messages. For example, this year we released a podcast with AIDS.gov in which LCOA Executive Director Guillermo Chacón talks about the importance of NLAAD. Another video features the meeting at the White House on implementing the National HIV/AIDS Strategy in the Latino Community.
In May, I joined the Commission to serve as the new Latino AIDS Awareness Day Director. In this role, I’ve seen the fact that in a relatively short existence, NLAAD has become a successful HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, each year involving more partners, organizing more events, and reaching more communities. Testing and counseling events are essential NLAAD activities. Together, we are reaching so many people for whom knowing their HIV status is a vital step to improving and protecting health, therefore leading to healthier Hispanic/Latino communities.
I am excited to be a part of NLAAD this year for many reasons. For one, I believe the disproportionate impact of HIV/AIDS on Latinos and Hispanics (PDF, 225 KB) can be redressed, in part through effective communication that includes new media such as our tweets , podcasts (with AIDS.gov) and Facebook page . I am also grateful that Latinos and Hispanics are among the high priority populations mentioned in the National HIV/AIDS Strategy that President Obama and the White House Office of National AIDS Policy released in July.
As we stop to observe NLAAD, I am in high hopes that all of us – Latinos, Hispanics and others – will make the time to get tested, get educated about HIV’s impact and its prevention, and make the goals of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy a real part of our own communities’ response to the epidemic. I look forward to drawing on our NLAAD partners and on new media and traditional communication strategies all year round to help reduce the impact of the epidemic. Remember, this year’s NLAAD theme is Save a Life, It May be your Own. Get Tested for HIV.