October 15th is National Latino AIDS Awareness Day. This year the organizers are using the slogan, “It’s time 'To End AIDS, Commit to Act'/ 'Para Acabar con el SIDA, Comprometete a Actuar.'
Why an HIV Awareness Day for Latinos?
Despite making up only 16% of the U.S. population, Hispanic/Latinos account for 21% of the 50,000 new HIV infections in this country every day. What does that mean in real numbers? It means that 1 in 36 Hispanic/Latino men and 1 in 106 Hispanic/Latina women will be diagnosed with HIV in their lifetime.
Is HIV really MY problem?
Lots of people don’t think HIV/AIDS is a problem for them to worry about. But 1 in 5 people with HIV, don’t know they have it. That person may be you, it may be the person you are dating or will someday date, or it may be someone you don’t know. But these kinds of massive health problems only get solved when everyone does their part.
And if you think you are too young to worry about HIV, think again. Did you know that 18 percent of all new HIV diagnoses are among young people aged 13–24 years--- of all racial and ethnic backgrounds?
Commit to Act
Whether or not you are Hispanic/Latino, we all have an obligation to take action to help prevent the spread of HIV. Here’s what you can do:
- Make healthy decisions. There is a link between drug use and HIV. Actually, there are several links, but teens should be most concerned with how drugs can affect their judgment. Drugs can make you do things you wouldn’t normally do, like flirt or go to a room with a guy or girl alone. So even if we don’t plan on HIV….HIV may be in the plans if we don’t commit to staying away from drugs and alcohol.
- Get the facts. There are a lot of misconceptions about who is or is not at risk for getting HIV. Anyone who is sexually active or uses drugs can contract the virus, but there are things you can do to be safe and prevent infection. This is why many schools are starting education programs for teens. Does your school have such a program? Do you know what to do to keep yourself safe?
- Check out: NIDA’s Learn the Link: English or Spanish
- You can also learn the facts by visiting these sites with your parents or other trusted adult, like your health professional or school nurse—even your coach or counselor.
Tell us in comments: What will you do to help stop the spread of HIV?