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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sexual Health: Let’s Talk About It!

Sexuality is an integral part of life, especially for older adults. With a country that boasts a melting pot of cultures and ethnicities, the expansion and normalization of sexual health within the context of aging is very vital. The World Health Organization defined sexual health as “the integration of the somatic, emotional, intellectual and social aspects of sexual beings in ways that are positively enriching and that enhance personality, communication and love.”

Their definition embraces the healthy liberation of sexual behavior and the prevention of interferences with sexual functions. In Margaret Nusbaum and Jo Ann Rosenfeld’s Sexual Health across the Lifecycle: A Practical Guide for Clinicians, the Cambridge University Press listed the benefits of a healthy sense of sexuality among older adults as: “(1) a link with the future through procreation; (2) a means of pleasure and physical release; (3) a sense of connection with others; (4) a form of gentle, subtle, or intense communication; (5) enhanced feelings of self-worth; and (6) a contribution to self-identity.” Every older adult should have the opportunity to experience these benefits, armed with the confident attitude needed.

This applies especially to older adults who may not feel comfortable enough to communicate or explore their lack of desire, diminished, or absent capacity for sexual fulfillment due to physiological, mental, or cultural barriers. Although they are well past their reproductive years, older adults often still have the desire and the capacity to lead full sexual lives as well as grasping the conduct within sexual actions. A 2008 NIH study on sexuality and health among older adults in the United Sates indicated that despite the high prevalence of bothersome sexual problems, the frequency of sexual activity did not actually decrease substantially with increasing age.

Data from the study also approximated that one quarter of sexually active older adults with a sexual dysfunction reported avoiding sex as a consequence. They as well, deserve the opportunity to achieve that even through addressing the implications for mental health and the health of relationships. In order to produce awareness on the matter, communication and dialogue throughout the older adult community is imperative.

In working to encourage the communication of sexual health, it is important to consider the traditional communities where there is an encumbrance in openly expressing themselves. For example, NHCOA’s extensive work with Hispanic older adults across the nation in the area of health-related topics reveals that Hispanic older adults are hesitant to talk about socially sensitive subjects even with healthcare providers. Along with that, there is a stigma constantly attached to older age and sexual activity that does not encourage a healthy discussion on the topic. The prior NIH study also concluded that reasons for the poor communication on the topic include the unwillingness of patients and physicians to initiate such discussions, along with gender, age, and cultural differences between patients and their physicians. Negative societal attitudes about women’s sexuality along with their age also inhibits such discussions.

Data from NHCOA’s HIV education and awareness program has illustrated the rise of the percentage of sexually transmitted infections among seniors over fifty years old. Now more than ever, it is important that we encourage physicians as well to advance their knowledge on sexuality at older ages in order to improve their skills in boarding the topic on patient sex education and counseling. This also means incorporating a more open understanding from physicians on cultural consciousness as a means to encourage a diligent and gentle approach in initiating the patient’s comfortable communication. This would assist in bridging the disconnect that is present due to cultural norms that are applicable with respect to some older ethnic adults.

If older adults do not confront the plethora of concerns, lack of information, and myths regarding sexuality, it can cause undue denial of what is a normal and important aspect of the quality of life and fulfillment as an older adult. The Institute of Medicine report No Time to Lose elaborates on the potential negative effects; they range from impeding the development and implementation of effective sexual health and educational programs, to impacting the level of counseling training given to health care providers to assess sexual histories as well as comfort levels of providers conducting risk-behavior discussions with clients.

In the former Surgeon General Dr. Satcher’s call for action, he challenged the country in: gaining an understanding on the importance of sexual health in everyday lives, being aware of sexual health care needs for patients, training professionals to manage these needs and, generally promoting an open and honest national dialogue about sexuality and sexual health.

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:

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  • 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 Goal: Donate Blood!

Getting-Vacinated-1-300x170[1]The month of January is known as National Blood Donor Month to both raise awareness about the importance of donating blood and honor those who take the time to do so.

 

This awareness event, which has existed since 1970, aptly chose the month of January because it is one of the slowest times of the year for donations. In fact, most blood centers in the United States have a hard time keeping more than a three-day supply of blood for transfusions due to the constant demand.

In commemoration of National Blood Donor Month, we will debunk some common myths related to blood donations and some tips on how to get involved.

 Myth 1: Donors can get infected with HIV from giving blood.

It is not possible to get HIV from donating blood as blood collection is highly regulated and safe. Further, while it is possible to become infected with HIV in health care settings, it is extremely rare. According to the aids.gov website, “the risk of getting HIV from receiving blood transfusions, blood products, or organ/tissue transplants that are contaminated with HIV is extremely small because of rigorous testing of the U.S. blood supply and donated organs and tissues.”

 

Myth 2: Your health is affected by giving blood.

If you are in good health prior to donating blood, you should recover completely in just a day or two. In the hours after donating blood, it is advisable to rest a while and drinking enough liquids to replaces the lost fluid. Your body should replace all the red blood cells within 3 to 4 days, and the white blood cells within three weeks.

 

Myth 3: There aren’t any age limits on blood donations.

It is recommended that anyone up to 60 years old who is in good health can donate blood.

 

Myth 4: A donor can know if s/he is HIV positive through a blood donation.

After infection, it can take months for the HIV antibodies to develop. Those who are recently infected may have a negative test result, but yet be able to infect others. It is recommendable for people who are at high risk of HIV infection to not to donate blood.

Now that we have debunked some of the most common myths, here are some quick tips on getting involved in blood donations:

 

  •  Know your blood type.

There are several types of blood, and if you are going to donate blood—and in the event of an emergency—it is important to know which type you have. If you are unaware of your blood type, you can ask your parents or get tested at a local laboratory or with your primary health care provider. You can also find out your blood type after donating blood. It might take a while, but the blood bank will be able to tell you your blood type.

 

  • Find your local blood bank.

You can find your nearest blood bank on the Red Cross Blood website.

 

  • Schedule blood donations throughout the year.

According to the Red Cross, you must wait at least eight weeks (56 days) between donations of whole blood and 16 weeks (112 days) between double red cell donations. Platelet apheresis donors may give every 7 days up to 24 times per year.

 

  • Encourage friends and family to donate blood.

Review blood donations information from reliable sources, such as the Red Cross, with friends and families to raise awareness about the importance of blood donation and encourage them to donate.

 

  • Talk about the importance of blood donation through your social media networks.

Share infographics, status updates, and data to spread awareness through your social media contacts.

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/

NHCOA President & CEO Encourages Action on World AIDS Day

 

 
This year’s theme is “Focus. Partner. Achieve: An AIDS-Free Generation”

 

Washington, DC- Dr. Yanira Cruz, President and CEO of the National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA)– the leading national organization working to improve the lives of Hispanic older adults, their families, and caregivers– released the following statement in commemoration of World AIDS Day, which is observed every year on December 1st:

 

“Since the first cases of HIV/AIDS were reported more than 30 years ago, approximately 25 million people have lost their battle to HIV. While significant medical advances have controlled HIV to the point where those who receive appropriate and continuous treatment can enjoy a long life and may never experience the devastation of AIDS, there is still more work to be done to achieve an AIDS-free generation.

 

“HIV thrives on silence and misinformation, which is why everyone has a role to play in the fight against HIV/AIDS, especially Hispanic older adults, their families, and caregivers. It is estimated that in the U.S. there are 50,000 new HIV infections each year. And, increasingly there are more older Americans who are getting infected, who may or may not be aware of their HIV status.

 

“Today on World AIDS Day, we join the rest of the globe in remembering those who have lost their fight to AIDS, as well as those approximately 34 million people who are living with HIV/AIDS worldwide. As a proud member of the CDC’s Act Against AIDS Leadership Initiative, we also encourage our partners and leaders to act against AIDS. Let’s focus on ensuring that all patients who enter and remain in medical care can manage their condition like a chronic illness, as well as partnering with community leaders and advocates to increase HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention throughout the country. Working together and sharing the best of our talents, we can achieve an AIDS-free generation.”

 

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NHCOA Encourages Latinos to Commit to End AIDS

nlaad-logoTo end AIDS, commit to act.

This is the theme for the 11th annual National Latino AIDS Awareness Day (NLAAD), which is observed yearly on October 15 at the end of Hispanic Heritage Month.

This awareness day was created in response to the impact of HIV/AIDS on the U.S. Latino community, including the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and this year the call action is centered around three main messages:

Get the Facts About HIV

Myths, stigma, and lack of targeted education makes Latinos less aware of how to protect themselves from the virus. This is concerning because Hispanics are disproportionately affected by HIV: Latinos represent 16% of the U.S. population and 21% of all new HIV infections.

Get Tested for HIV

1 in 6 people living with HIV in the U.S. do not know they are infected, which contributes to the rates of new infections. Further, studies show that one in 36 Latino men and one in 106 Latina women will be diagnosed with HIV at some point in life.

Get Into and Stay in Medical Care if you are HIV+

The best way to fight against HIV if you are infected is to get into what is called the HIV care continuum or treatment cascade— a model that agencies at every level use to identify issues and opportunities related to improving the delivery of services to HIV+ positive patients who are receiving treatment.

“HIV is a serious matter for the entire country, especially the Hispanic community, which is disproportionately affected. That is why NHCOA committed to doing our part in ending AIDS. Through our work with the CDC’s Act Against AIDS Leadership Initiative, we are helping to reduce the rates of HIV in hard-to-reach and diverse communities,” said Dr. Yanira Cruz, NHCOA President and CEO.

“While our focus is on the Latino senior population, we cannot begin to address the issue of HIV without looking at the big picture: Hispanic older adults’ families and caregivers. This intergenerational approach allows us to understand what the most effective practices and strategies are when it comes to reaching hard-to-reach seniors, as well as promote cross generational dialogue and education.”

“Specifically, 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 Latino AIDS Awareness Day (NLAAD)

Get the Facts. Start a conversation at home, or with a loved one, on HIV/AIDS.

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.]

Join the Conversation. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #NLAAD to be part of the ongoing conversation. [Need some more information? Check out our 2014 NLAAD materials for inspiration.]

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