|From The Field: Latinos Partnering to Address HIV/AIDS in Florida
Florida's Latino community is one of the fastest growing ethnic groups in the state, comprising 21.5 percent of the overall state population. Of the 18,727 living HIV/AIDS cases among Hispanics through 2010, 30 percent were U.S. born, 15 percent were Cuban born, 10 percent were Puerto Rican born, five percent were Mexican born, 26 percent were born elsewhere and the remaining 14 percent had an unknown country of birth. Among adults (age 13 or higher), one in 111 Hispanic men and one in 439 Hispanic women were living with HIV/AIDS in 2010, compared to one in 201 white men and one in 1,121 white women.
In 1999, the Florida Department of Health Bureau of HIV/AIDS made a commitment to redouble its efforts to address HIV/AIDS in Latino communities. As a result, Florida's Latino initiatives today are mostly community driven and the Bureau of HIV/AIDS works very closely with the Florida Latino AIDS Advisory Group (FLAAG). The mission of FLAAG is to develop linkages between minority community leaders, minority community-based organizations (CBO) and the Florida Bureau of HIV/AIDS by providing support for advocacy, resources, and strategies to increase quality HIV/AIDS services to Latino communities.
In October 2010, Latinos en Acción of Broward County and the members of the Florida Latino AIDS Advisory Group held the first Latino HIV/AIDS Leadership Summit in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, attended by over 172 leaders from around Florida. Held in conjunction with National Latino AIDS Awareness Day, the summit sought to develop a grassroots movement and mobilize key stakeholders in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Florida. The summit led to the development of action items to help communities raise awareness of HIV/AIDS in Hispanic/Latino communities throughout Florida.
After the summit, members of FLAAG created a document entitled "Test And Treat Latino HIV/AIDS In Florida: Response to the National HIV/AIDS Strategy." This document includes a recommendation from the Latino Summit that the group connect their goals to the three major goals of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy. The Florida Latino AIDS Advisory Group submitted this document to the Bureau of HIV/AIDS for implementation. The Bureau agreed to use it as a blueprint to address HIV/AIDS among Latinos for the next five years.
On National Latino AIDS Awareness Day this year, the Bureau of HIV/AIDS will issue a press release to unveil an exciting new HIV testing initiative that seeks to test 112,000 Latinos by 2012. HIV testing among Latinos in Florida has already increased 199 percent between1999 and 2010, and Florida seeks to build on this momentum. Further progress to reach the goals of the new initiative will require partnering with many more agencies and organizations working with Latinos throughout the state.
Other initiatives have also contributed to the increase in HIV testing among Latinos, including: LUCES (Latinas Unidas Contra el SIDA/Latinas United Against AIDS), the Expanded Testing Initiative (ETI), and Test Miami. LUCES is a community mobilization effort to heighten awareness about HIV/AIDS and encourage Latina women to get tested for HIV. The Expanded Testing Initiative provides routine testing services in new clinical venues to reach a broader array of at-risk populations. The Test Miami initiative is a collaborative HIV testing effort between the Miami-Dade County Health Department and the Florida Bureau of HIV/AIDS that includes representatives from community-based organizations, private and public sectors and faith-based organizations, as well as HIV test counselors, health care providers, academicians, city, county, state and national officials and concerned citizens.
"While Latinos play an integral role in achieving the goals and vision of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, all of us must strive to create a clear sense of direction, create and share innovative strategies, and create and engage in collaborative partnerships to significantly decrease the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in all communities," said Evelyn Ullah, Director of the STD/HIV/AIDS Prevention Program at the Broward County Health Department.
Moving forward, Florida will continue this comprehensive grassroots approach to address HIV/AIDS among its Latino communities. For more information contact Francisco Ruiz.
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NASTAD's Youth Community Initiative
NASTAD launched the Youth Community Initiative in an effort to assist state and local health departments enhance their capacity to address the needs of young men of color who have sex with men (YMCSM). Young gay men are disproportionately burdened by HIV and other STDs and increasingly have the greatest risk of negative sexual health outcomes in the United States. The NASTAD initiative is designed to bring together teams of representatives from state and local health and education agencies and local community providers to facilitate the development and/or strengthening of a collaborative relationship to address the prevention needs among YMCSM. This effort helps to advance HIV/STD prevention and education services targeting YMCSM in jurisdictions demonstrating need and having an interest in gaining support through technical assistance. This collaboration will assist jurisdictions in addressing conditions that contribute to the spread of HIV and STDs and improve sexual health outcomes among YMCSM by helping them to plan strategies and actions and leverage the resources of their collaborative partners. NASTAD is currently working with teams in Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin, with a specific emphasis on impacting the lives of young Black gay men in Chicago, Detroit, and Milwaukee. For more information contact Tyler TerMeer.
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Gay Men's Health Equity Work Group
NASTAD convened the second face-to-face meeting of the Gay Men's Health Equity Work Group August 17-18 in Atlanta following the 2011 National HIV Prevention Conference (NHPC). The Work Group, comprised of health department representatives from several state and local health departments, and NASTAD staff met to continue dialogue on health department efforts and member commitments to further develop existing programs, implement new and innovative approaches and allocate resources focused on gay men and other MSM. The meeting also served as an opportunity for discussion about whether local investments are meeting the HIV and STD prevention needs of gay men. More specifically, participants discussed how to maximize prevention investments and preserve existing resources geared toward achieving the most beneficial outcomes for gay men and other MSM in the face of funding shifts and programmatic priorities stemming from the recent health department funding opportunity announcement. Based on these discussions, the Gay Men's Health Equity Work Group developed a set of systems-level recommendations, approved by the NASTAD Executive Committee, for health departments and federal agencies to consider when seeking a more targeted investment in the lives of gay men of all races and ethnicities. NASTAD convened an all-member call on these recommendations in late September. For more information contact Tyler TerMeer.
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Member and Staff Updates
In member news, Michelle Roland announced that she is leaving as the director of the California Office of AIDS to become CDC's HIV country director in Tanzania. Karen Mark, Acting Division Chief and Chris Nelson, Assistant Division Chief, are co-representing California until Michelle's replacement is named.
Emily McCloskey is now a Manager with the NASTAD Policy and Legislative Affairs team, coming to NASTAD from the AIDS Institute where she participated in many Federal AIDS Policy Partnership (FAPP) coalitions and worked on appropriations and other relevant policy issues related to HIV/AIDS and viral hepatitis.
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