A new report [pdf] from the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD) provides insights on the HIV/AIDS crisis among Latino gay men in the United States. Designed to assist and inform effective Federal, state and local public health responses to HIV and STDs among this population, the report summarizes the findings of a qualitative study in 12 jurisdictions that investigated responses of health departments and community-based organizations to HIV/AIDS among Latino gay men in the United States.
The study and report, A Través de Nuestros Ojos (Through Our Eyes): Promoting Health and Social Equity to Address HIV/AIDS among Latino Gay Men, was supported by the Initiative on AIDS for Hispanic Communities through the Office of AIDS Research (OAR) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and was conducted by NASTAD in partnership with the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.
While anyone can become infected with HIV, some Americans are at greater risk than others. This includes gay and bisexual men of all races and ethnicities as well as Latinos and Latinas. Gay and bisexual men represent the greatest proportion of HIV cases among Latinos. In response to the disproportionate impact of HIV among Latino men who have sex with men (MSM), as well as the disproportionate impact among other populations, the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, released in July 2010, calls for allocating public funding consistent with the epidemic when it observes that “by focusing our efforts in communities where HIV is concentrated, we can have the biggest impact in lowering all communities’ collective risk of acquiring HIV” and urges that “Governments at all levels should ensure that HIV prevention funding is allocated consistent with the latest epidemiological data and is targeted to the highest prevalence populations and communities.”
As health departments, community-based organizations, Federal partners, and other stakeholders seek to assess and align resources in response, according to Francisco Ruiz, NASTAD’s Senior Manager for Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities, “this report can increase their understanding of the facilitators, barriers and gaps in the provision of HIV prevention and care and treatment services targeting Latino gay men.”
The report presents several key findings. Among these are 1) the need for collaboration in an era of economic austerity; 2) the need for capacity development and leadership within the Latino community; and 3) the need to explore the cultural factors that present challenges and opportunities to effectively reach Latin Gay men. Finally, the report concludes with several issues for consideration by state and local health departments, community-based organizations, and other stakeholders. These suggestions are grounded in research and based on key themes that emerged from literature reviews, focus group interviews and observation of successful strategies in the many communities visited for this study. Regardless of whether you are relatively new to working with this population or are experienced in addressing the HIV/AIDS needs of Latino gay men, the perspectives and suggestions shared in this report can be a helpful resource in your program planning.
The report is also available in Spanish .
How could you use information like this to strengthen your efforts to reach and engage Latino MSM? Let us know in the comments section below.