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Taking a Stand on Caribbean-American HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

The effects of HIV on the Caribbean Diaspora and Caribbean-American communities in the U.S. are devastating. Just like other diverse communities, health disparities— including diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and HIV/AIDS— as well as access to health care are prevalent in this population. Given that the U.S. Caribbean-American population is also underrepresented in national data and statistics as many are grouped under the African-American demographic, it is important to commemorate yearly events such as the National Caribbean-American HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NCAHAAD) to promote health education, engagement, and HIV testing among diverse communities.

Every year on June 8, Caribbean-American leaders across the country sponsor an array of activities to promote HIV/AIDS awareness, as well as draw national attention to the health status of Caribbean-Americans in the U.S. In 2008, Caribbean-Americans represented about 240,000 of the people in the U.S. living with HIV and approximately 20,000 new infections every year. As data indicates that older Americans, especially those from diverse communities, are increasingly at risk for HIV infection, it is imperative that the HIV/AIDS prevention and education messages promoted on NCAHAAD and similar awareness days include and reflect this key population.

How We Can Get Involved

There are several ways we can contribute to sharing this important message within all our communities because HIV is an equal opportunity disease that can affect anyone, at any time and any age:

  1. Use intergenerational relationships to talk HIV

Through NHCOA’s work as a partner of the Act Against AIDS Leadership Initiative, we know that many Latino seniors are open to dialoguing with younger generations. (Some even opened up and shared their advice on video.) Leveraging the close relationships many older adults have with their kin, especially grandchildren, is key to eliminating stigma and shame, as well as encourage talking about HIV.

  1. Get tested and encourage others to do as well

If you are sexually active, the only way to know your HIV status is to get tested. This is especially important for older Americans who think they can’t get infected with HIV because of their age. There are many clinics that offer free testing, and recipients of Medicare Original also are entitled to free HIV testing every 12 months as part of their covered tests and screenings.

  1. Get involved with organizations and leaders who promote HIV health education and prevention

Galvanizing the community around issues that impact their health and well-being is a crucial part of ensuring that every person has access to the information and resources they need to make informed health decisions.

  1. Encourage loved ones to get treated if they are HIV positive

HIV awareness isn’t just about preventing the infection, but also supporting and encouraging those who are HIV-positive. Patients who regularly and consistently receive treatment and care can lead longer, healthier lives, managing HIV as a chronic condition. The key is to enter treatment and care— and stick to it— as soon as a person knows they are HIV-positive to reduce the chance of developing AIDS, as well as spreading the infection to others.

  1. Get social and spread the word

Start and engage in conversations through your social media networks to spread awareness using the hashtags #NCAHAAD and #caribaidsday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Speaking Up on National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

nwghaad-logo-ribbonCurrently, about one in four people living with HIV in the United States are women ages 13 and older.  Of these, roughly half of the women living with HIV are in care, and only 4 in 10 have the virus under control

On March 10, we observe an annual nationwide event called National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day to talk, and raise awareness about, the impact of HIV/AIDS on women and girls throughout the country, especially older women who face increasing risk of HIV.

While many milestones have been achieved in terms of HIV/AIDS prevention, care, and treatment, there are still too many women in the U.S. who are affected by the disease. They are mothers, sisters, teammates, colleagues, caregivers, and friends. There are also many women who don’t have HIV or AIDS, but carry the burden of the disease as a caregiver and provider for a loved one.

We need to shed light on their stories and experiences so we can reduce the stigma and encourage our communities and families to take action, whether it’s getting informed, getting tested, or spreading the word to others.

Use your social networks to get involved

  • Share this video with advice from Latina older adults:

 

  • Pin these memes:

Follow NHCOA’s board National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on Pinterest

      • Post a picture wearing red with the hashtag #Redon10
  • Repost these word clouds on Facebook:

11051907_10153063979332247_5348186140184125007_n

 

 

  • Tweet about National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day with the hashtag #NWGHAAD

 

Additional Resources

CDC’s One Conversation campaign (English)

CDC’s One Conversation campaign (Spanish)

HIV Among Women fact sheet (CDC)

National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day fact sheet (English)

National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day fact sheet (Spanish)

NWGHAAD website (Spanish)

Working to Stop HIV on National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day 

Saturday, February 7 marks National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD), a day which elevates the importance of getting tested and treated in the African American community through community mobilization. The NBHAAD theme, I Am My Brother/Sister’s Keeper: Fight HIV/AIDS!, reminds us that it will take everyone’s involvement and support to stop HIV together, especially in diverse communities that are disproportionately affected as are Hispanics and African Americans.

While African Americans represent 12% of the U.S. population, they accounted for 44% of all new infections in 2010. This makes them the racial/ethnic group most affected by HIV. By the end of 2008, an estimated 260,800 African Americans living with AIDS have died in the United States.

As a proud Hispanic/Latino partner of the CDC’s Act Against AIDS Leadership Initiative (AAALI), NHCOA encourages everyone reading this to get informed, get tested and get involved as we join nationwide efforts to stop HIV together, especially among diverse populations.

Break the stigma that often persists in the Latino community surrounding HIV/AIDS

One of the best ways to fight HIV is by speaking up against the silence, fear, and myths that far too often dominate the issue. As grandparents, caregivers, and family members we have the power to inform ourselves and our loved ones. Grandchildren can have the kind of relationship with their grandparents that allows them to talk about issues they might not feel comfortable bringing up to their parents. Grandparents, especially those who live with or close by their relatives, have the authority and wisdom to not only help eliminate stigma, but also beat down discrimination and phobias that continue to persist in our communities.

In addition to raising HIV awareness, abstinence, mutual monogamy, regular and consistent condom use and HIV treatment are all key to preventing or reducing the incidence of HIV in our communities. Also, during yearly check ups talk to your doctor about the risk of HIV and whether you should get tested or not. You can find your nearest testing site near you by clicking on this link, calling 1-800-CDC-INFO (232-4636), or texting your ZIP code to KNOW IT (566948).

Lastly, adding your voices to the online conversations surrounding HIV/AIDS issues and awareness days, such as NBHAAD can help spread your message to all your networks and beyond. The official NBHAAD Twitter account is @blackaidsday. Leading up to Saturday, NHCOA (@NHCOA) and Act Against AIDS (@talkHIV) will also be posting messages regarding NBHAAD that you can re-tweet and share with your networks.

For more information on NBHAAD, visit the CDC NBHAAD feature. To learn more about how you can get involved in the fight against HIV, visit the Act Against AIDS website.

NHCOA is one of three national Hispanic/Latino partners of the CDC’s Act Against AIDS Leadership Initiative (AAALI), a multi-year national communication initiative to reduce the incidence of HIV/AIDS among diverse communities.

New Year, New Goals: Let’s Talk HIV with our Friends and Families

For many of us the New Year means a renewed focus on improving different aspects of our lives, including our health.

CDC One Conversation at a Time Campaign web banner. Image of two young Latinos, a boy and a girl, and two speech bubbles, each with a message about the importance of having HIV conversations.

While healthy eating and regular exercise are key factors in maintaining one’s health, being aware of, and understanding certain health risks are equally as important.

As you may know, Latinos face many disproportionate health inequities, which is why getting informed and spreading the word is even more vital to the health and well-being of the entire community.

For the past several years, NHCOA has been partnering with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to bring HIV/AIDS information, education, and outreach to the most vulnerable and most affected populations, which includes the Hispanic community. As an Act Against AIDS Leadership Initiative partner, NHCOA works with local community-based organizations, lay health educators, as well as other members of our Hispanic Aging Network to eliminate stigmas and encourage open, informed conversations about HIV/AIDS.

One of the tools the CDC has created to further this goal is the We Can Stop HIV One Conversation at a Time bilingual campaign, which was specifically designed for the Latino community.

It may not be easy to talk about HIV/AIDS, but having conversations about it is one of the best ways we can protect our families and community. Currently, more than 20% of the new HIV infections in the United States each year are among Hispanics. Imagine how many of those new infections could be avoided if we made a point of speaking up in our homes, workplaces, and places of worship. Imagine how many more people would feel supported and empowered to seek medical attention because they HIV status isn’t a cause of fear, shame or embarrassment. Imagine how many more people would be empowered to make informed decisions regarding their health and their bodies.

To learn more about the CDC’s We Can Stop HIV One Conversation at a Time campaign in English, click here. Campaign materials and information are also available in Spanish here

Day Five: Let’s talk HIV, one conversation at a time

Over the next 12 days, we will be sharing daily posts to motivate you to think about your health and well-being during the holiday season. Some posts will focus on handy tips, while others will offer a reflexion. We hope these words will inspire you and we invite you to share them with friends, neighbors and family. 

12 Dias-25

Health is an important and necessary aspect of our lives. Without it, we can face many unpleasant consequences, which affects both patients and families. The good news is there are many things we can do to protect our health and keep our families and caregivers healthy. One of the things we can do is create open channels of communication to talk about health issues that we tend to shy away from, such as HIV/AIDS.

The reality is that in the United States, more than 1 million people are infected with HIV/AIDS, of which approximately 20% are Hispanic. Latinos also represent almost 21% of the new HIV infections each year, which includes Hispanic older adults. This why increased education and outreach is needed in our community, and one of the best ways to talk HIV is with trusted friends and family.

That is why the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently launched the “One Conversation at a Time” campaign, which is a national bilingual campaign that encourages Latinos across the country to talk openly about HIV/SIDA within their spheres of trust— families, friends, and communities — because HIV can affect any person, regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation or civil status. Therefore, we all have a role to play when it comes to preventing HIV.

This holiday season provides a perfect opportunity to talk about HIV with your loved ones — what it is, how it is spread, and how to prevent it. It is also a good opportunity to approach those who are infected and make sure they are receiving proper and continuous medical care and treatment.

Gain access to helpful tools and resources from the CDC’s One Conversation at a Time campaign here.

Share these social media graphics:

One Conversation

Watch and share this video:

YT Video

 

NHCOA is one of three national Hispanic/Latino partners of the CDC’s Act Against AIDS Leadership Initiative (AAALI), a national effort to inform Hispanic older adults, their families, and caregivers about HIV/AIDS as well encourage them to talk HIV in their communities and with their loved ones. For more information, please visit http://www.nhcoa.org/actagainstaids/

2014 National Latino AIDS Awareness Day Materials

nlaad-logo

Hispanics currently account for 21% of new HIV infections and 19% of people living with HIV in the U.S., but only represent 16% of the total population. This stark reality is the reason why various organizations and activists across the country commemorate October 15 as National Latino AIDS Awareness Day (NLAAD). NHCOA has compiled these resources to help Hispanic older adults, their families, and caregivers, as well as health advocates and professionals to engage their communities in the HIV conversation so more people know the facts, get tested, and get into and remain in medicare care if they do have HIV.

Events

Social Media

Materials

Campaigns

Additional Resources

NHAAAD 2014: Shifting Attention and Focus to HIV/AIDS and Aging

Aging is a part of life; HIV doesn’t have to be. 

This is the theme for the 7th annual National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day (NHAAAD), which is observed yearly on September 18.

This awareness day was created to address two distinct truths:

Many older Americans are not getting tested for HIV.

Myths, stigma, and lack of targeted education make this population, especially diverse older adults, less aware of how to protect themselves from the virus. This is concerning because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that by next year, 50% of the people living with HIV in the United States will be 50 years or older.

Medical breakthroughs have improved HIV treatment, allowing people who adhere to regular and continuous care lead longer and healthier lives.

While this is a positive outcome, we face a shortage of services and support mechanisms for older Americans living with HIV/AIDS. In addition, there isn’t enough research or data about the impact of HIV/AIDS on the normal aging process.

“If we look at the data, the numbers are very clear. There is a clear need to shift attention and focus to older Americans, who face many of the same HIV risk factors that younger age groups do, yet are more likely to receive a late diagnosis,” said Dr. Yanira Cruz, NHCOA President and CEO.

“This is particularly true among diverse seniors, who face many health disparities compared with their White non-Hispanic peers. That is why NHCOA became a proud partner of the CDC’s Act Against AIDS Leadership Initiative to help reduce the rates of HIV in hard-to-reach and diverse communities. While NHCOA serves and represents the needs and interests of Hispanic older adults, we know they don’t live in a vacuum.”

“Through our work with AAALI we leverage the strong connections, leadership, and influence Latino seniors have within their families, communities, and places of worship and leisure by offering culturally and linguistically appropriate outreach and education focused on intergenerational storytelling and dialogue to break the silence and eliminate the stigma.”

What you can do on National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day

  • Get Tested. If you are sexually active, ask your healthcare provider for an HIV test during annual check ups. [Under the ACA, most new health insurance plans must cover certain recommended preventive services, including HIV testing. Free HIV screening is also included in Medicare Part B.]
  • Advocate. Read the Diverse Elders Coalition’s Eight Policy Recommendations for Improving the Health and Wellness of Older Adults with HIV.
  • Go Viral. Share this blog post and these NHCOA videos with your contacts and raise awareness about HIV/AIDS and aging.
  • Join the Conversation. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtags #AIDSandAging and #NHAAAD to be part of the ongoing conversation. Here is a social media guide and memes to get you started.

 

The Importance of Clinical Trials in Vaccine Development

A Conversation with a Vaccine Clinical Trial Participant

Augusto Paredes, BSN, RN Vaccine Trial Participant
Augusto Paredes, BSN, RN Vaccine Trial Participant

Almost since the discovery of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, scientists have been hard at work trying to find a vaccine to prevent HIV infection. After all, vaccines have proven to be a vital part of public health by preventing infectious diseases from smallpox to influenza and have saved hundreds of millions of lives since the 18th century (History of Vaccines, 2014). As we commemorate HIV Vaccine Awareness Day, the conversation must include thanking the more than 30,000 HIV vaccine trial participants worldwide (HIV Vaccine Trials Network, 2013). If researchers are to develop a globally effective HIV vaccine one day, their efforts will have to include a diverse group of study volunteers, advocates, and community advisors. NHCOA recently had the opportunity to sit down with Augusto Paredes, BSN, RN about his experiences as a vaccine trial participant.

Augusto is the Nurse Manager at the Georgetown Hospital Division of Infectious Diseases and Travel Medicine in Washington, DC and has worked in HIV prevention and education in the Latino community for years. He attributes his experiences in community outreach and advocacy to his motivation to participate in clinical trials at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD.

 

What made you decide to participate in a clinical trial?

I was mostly driven by my involvement in the HIV field. I’ve always wanted to do more for the medical field in general and participating in research seemed like a good way to do it. I was originally recruited by Marco Zurita [colleague and long-time community liaison for National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) through the PACT Program] for an HIV study looking at different tissues of HIV negative people to see why anal sex was riskier than oral sex [in terms of possible HIV infection]. The funds that [Marco] had allowed him to provide me transportation – he made things pretty easy, he took care of me as a volunteer. He made sure I was being taken care of everywhere from phlebotomy to getting me to the Clinical Center at NIH. All I had to do was call him and he made things happen. I ended up not participating in that study, but they kept my information and when a vaccine study came up, they contacted me and I went in to find out more.

 

What was process like for you becoming a research participant?

The first visit for the screening you meet with the nurse and they explain to you the risks, the benefits, they’re pretty thorough, spending 15-20 minutes explaining the study to you. I did some blood work, got instructions about what procedures would be done including EKG and HIV test. When I got a call back [about the HIV study], at first I thought it was a positive HIV result, but thankfully it was just an abnormal EKG. They asked if I wanted to have my blood used for a different study and I said yes, so they ended up paying me for that – compensation they call it over there [at NIH]. At the time I was going to college and I kind of needed the money (laugh). With the vaccine study, it was pretty much the same thing – I met with the nurse, they told me all about the study, and we did some blood work to see if I was eligible to participate. That one I did end up enrolling in and participating all the way through.

Recently, I got a letter about the article that they published with the data. I was very excited to see that update; I was contributing a little to medical research. Without medical research, we wouldn’t have cures for cancers or HIV medications or all these great things that are keeping people alive. Vaccines themselves are such a great tool for disease prevention and being part of such an important thing was just great; it felt good.

“Vaccines themselves are such a great tool for disease prevention and being part of such an important thing was just great; it felt good.”

 

What did your friends and family think of you participating in a clinical trial?

They were kind of afraid, especially when they heard I was going to be receiving an actual vaccine. They were like, “Why are you doing that??” I was fine; I never had any doubts like I wasn’t concerned about getting a disease from it. I never really thought too much about it, like I wasn’t thinking, ‘Oh my God, they’re putting an experimental product in my body.” The vaccine [in the study] had already been through many trials. The safety had already been proven; they were just [adjusting the dosage]. I knew that the vaccine had already been studied and it was safe to be injected into humans, so it was fine. I felt good about it.

 

What would you say to anyone concerned about a loved one participating in a clinical trial?

Honestly, I would tell them to take it easy. When people hear the term ‘research’ and they know you’re getting some kind of medication or [researchers] are injecting something into your body, they’ll ask, “Why are you doing that?!” and my response is, “Why are you asking questions without getting educated on the subject?” If someone is asking valid questions, I’ll absolutely answer them but if someone just [has a gut reaction of] “Don’t do this!” I’ll ask them how they can be against something they have so little information about.

I dismissed a lot of people’s concerns, but with my mother, she was more worried and I was more patient with her. She worried about her son getting an experimental product. I explained the whole study to her, what it was about, and reinforced to her over and over again that I wasn’t going to get sick. She trusts me and knows I wouldn’t get myself into something that would potentially hurt me.

 

What advice would you give someone considering volunteering for a research study but might be concerned about what family might say?

Well, first, definitely do it [participate]. I think education is the best tool anything really, not just this but anything. Know what kind of research you’re going into because there are lots of different kinds of trials and there are some studies where you’re getting medications that could potentially hurt you. For example, I have a patient [at Georgetown Hospital] that has been battling cancer for many years and he’s getting some experimental drugs because they’ve tried everything else and nothing is working. We don’t know whether he’s going to be okay or not. Usually healthy volunteer studies are not going to hurt [participants]. A lot of people are skeptical of the government and they don’t trust research institutions and things like that. I do and I think we need to put a little bit more trust in our medical professionals. I feel like in the Latino community especially there’s a lot of skepticism with the medical field in general and we just need to put a little bit more trust. I feel like that comes with education, and not just going online and googling everything but having discussions with not only physicians but also, especially in immigrant families in the United States, it also means having younger generations talk to older adults about what they’ve learned.

 

The views and opinions expressed on this blog post are soley those of the person interviewed. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the National Hispanic Council on Aging, its staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

3 Ways Grandparents Can Act Against AIDS on NYHAAD

The relationship between grandparents and grandchildren is extremely special, especially when the interaction goes beyond holiday visits and occasional calls. Grandparents often times form a closeness and bond with their grandchildren that is empowering and enriching. Their child-rearing experience often allows them to cultivate a relationship with their grandchildren that is steeped in wisdom and filled with mutual appreciation and respect. This is even more the case as an increasing number of American households have become multigenerational. This is particularly true for diverse communities, including Latinos: 22% of Hispanic households are multigenerational, compared to 13% of White households.

This grandparent-grandchild bond allows older adults to address a variety of issues that might be touchy, embarrassing, and even scary for grandchildren to discuss with their parents, including HIV/AIDS. National Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NYHAAD) is a good opportunity for grandparents to raise HIV awareness, as well as encourage their grandchildren to act against AIDS. Here are three things grandparents can do to empower their grandchildren to raise awareness and get involved in the fight against AIDS on NYHAAD and every day of the year:

1. Schedule a joint annual check-up that includes an HIV test. 

Preventive health care is important at any age. Grandparents can schedule their annual check-ups with their grandchildren, and ensure they both get tested for HIV. (The CDC estimates that by 2015, 50% of people living with HIV/AIDS will be 50 years of age or older.)

 

2. Have an open discussion on HIV/AIDS.

Myths, stigma, and misinformation encourage the spread of HIV. Grandparents should sit down with their grandchildren and have an open discussion about what HIV/AIDS is, how the virus is transmitted, and how to reduce risk of infection. Reliable sources of information include:

www.aids.gov

http://www.cdc.gov/actagainstaids/

http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/

http://www.aidsinfo.nih.gov/hiv-aids-health-topics

http://hivtest.cdc.gov

 

3. Encourage grandchildren to talk HIV with their peers.

Grandparents should empower their grandchildren to dispel myths, eliminate stigma, and set the record straight on HIV/AIDS with their peers by leveraging personal and social networks. The more we raise awareness and shed light on HIV/AIDS, the closer we get toward the goal of achieving an “AIDS-free generation”— a future time in which no person, regardless of age, race, or gender, contracts HIV.

 

NHCOA is a proud Hispanic/Latino partner of the CDC’s Act Against AIDS Leadership Initiative (AAALI), an effort to reduce the incidence of HIV/AIDS among diverse communities.

Acting Against AIDS in Diverse Communities

As a proud Hispanic/Latino partner of the CDC’s Act Against AIDS Leadership Initiative (AAALI), today NHCOA commemorates National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD) to shed a special light on how HIV/AIDS disproportionately impacts the U.S. African American community. The statistics are telling:

– At some point in their lifetimes, 1 in 16 Black men, as well as 1 in 32 Black women will be diagnosed with HIV. [Download and share this CDC graphic.]

– There are approximately 1.1 million people living with HIV/AIDS in the U.S., including more than 500,000 African Americans.

– Blacks represent approximately 12% of the U.S. population, but 44% of all new HIV infections.

Similar to the African American community, the burden of HIV is disproportionate within the U.S. Latino population: Hispanics represent 21% of new HIV diagnoses despite representing 16% of the total U.S. population.

And, we look at the statistics by age groups, we find that older Americans are also increasingly affected by HIV. People 50 years and older represent 15% of the new HIV infections in the U.S.

As long as HIV remains a silent, lurking killer within our communities, it will continue to claim victims and lives. That is why NHCOA is proud to be part of the Center for Disease Control’s Act Against AIDS Leadership Initiative (AAALI). Each organization member taps into their communities and networks to spread a simple, yet life-saving message:

Get Informed.

Get Tested.

Get Involved.

Each message pillar points to a specific action we can take to protect ourselves from HIV, whether it is learning more about HIV/AIDS, getting tested to know your HIV status, or helping local organizations spread the word in your community.  For those who are HIV-positive, getting treated is the best way to act against AIDS. There are plenty of resources so we can all, in our different capacities, act against AIDS not just today, but every day of the year. Each one of us is our brother’s and sister’s keeper!

To learn more about NBHAAD, click here.