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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.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Medical breakthroughs have improved HIV treatment, allowing people living with HIV/AIDS who stick 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 the Facts. Start a conversation at home, or with a loved one, on HIV/AIDS. You can get more information here.
  • 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.
  • Join the Conversation. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtags #AIDSandAging and #NHAAAD to be part of the ongoing conversation. Here are some sample messages and memes to get you started.
  • Go Viral. Share this blog post and NHCOA videos like the one below with your contacts and raise awareness about HIV/AIDS and aging.

 

Top 3 reasons Latinos should participate in HIV vaccine testing

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3. To understand HIV immunity better

HIV is one of the most studied pathogens in human history. However, the virus’ rapid mutation and error-prone replication process make it a difficult target for vaccine development. That’s part of why it has been so difficult to find an effective vaccine so far. As more people participate in HIV vaccine testing, scientists gain a better understanding of how the immune system responds to proteins that look like HIV (since the actual virus is not used in making HIV vaccines). This information is used to improve vaccines, develop new treatments and identify new targets to more effectively prevent HIV infection.

2. To ensure safety of vaccines

All medications on pharmacy shelves and all vaccines administered in doctor’s offices have something in common – they have all undergone extensive medical testing to ensure their safety and efficacy. Medical research depends on the contributions of people from all walks of life giving of themselves for the benefit of people across the globe. Reasons for enrolling in clinical trials are highly personal and vary from participant to participant, but diverse participation is a vital part of the search for an effective HIV vaccine.

1. To ensure efficacy in diverse populations

As previously mentioned, the success of medications and vaccines depends on the contributions of research volunteers. When participants come predominantly from one demographic group, the ability to generalize the resulting product is limited. For example, long-used cardiac medications have been shown to be less effective in diverse communities than in white populations. This is due in part to the fact that the vast majority of research participants in the United States are white. This is particularly problematic for conditions like HIV that disproportionally affect diverse communities. By increasing diversity in clinical trials participation, we can ensure that any vaccine brought to market can have the most benefit in the hardest-hit populations.

Read about Augusto’s experience as a clinical trial participant.

 

HIV is a global issue. Responding to it and preventing its spread requires the active participation of all communities, particularly those most affected by it, as are Latinos in the United States. For more information about participating in HIV vaccine trials, contact vaccines@nih.gov.

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.

National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day 2014

Today we commemorate National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NWGHAAD) in recognition of the women 13 years and older who are living with HIV in the United States. Some of these women don’t know they are infected, and others don’t know that they are at risk of getting infected. Given that diverse populations, such as Latinos, are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS, it is critical to empower these communities to get the facts, get tested, and get involved in the fight against AIDS.

On National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NWGHAAD) let’s:

  • Encourage women and girls to get tested and know their status
  • Help decrease the number of women who are HIV-positive
  • Increase awareness of safe practices to prevent HIV infection
  • Help people become aware of the levels of care and treatment

Here are some ways you can participate.

Get the Facts on NWGHAAD

There are several resources that you can access to learn more about National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. Click here to visit the NWGHAAD webpage on the Office of Women’s Health website.

 

Participate in a NWGHAAD Webinar

Join the HHS Office on Women’s Health for a webinar entitled “Ongoing Care and Treatment: Women with HIV/AIDS” on Monday 10, 2014 from 2:00-3:00 pm ET. Click here to register.

If you aren’t able to participate, you can follow the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #AIDSchat.

 

Share NWGHAAD Social Media Graphics

Visit the NHCOA Facebook page and Pinterest page share these facts with your friends and loved ones. Click on each graphic to see the rest of the album in Facebook.

NWGHAAD Social Media Graphics-02

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Share Educational Stories 

The stories below were crafted to reflect situations that many Latinas face when it comes to HIV/AIDS. Share these fictional stories with loved ones to help put a face to a disease that is ageless and genderless. Remember that silence, misinformation, and omission allows HIV/AIDS to prosper and thrive. If we want to protect our loved ones, especially our mamás (mothers), tías (aunts), abuelas (grandmothers), hijas (daughters), and hermanas (sisters), we must raise our voices to share this important message.

Juana’s Story:

I have worked hard all my life alongside my husband. We raised three children, all of which are college-educated and have started families of their own. When my husband passed away three years ago, I was lost. My partner of more than 30 years was gone, and I felt very lonely. I met Marcos at my community center. He had lost his wife several years ago, and we became good friends. Eventually, our friendship developed into a romance. I never thought to use protection because I thought we were too old to catch a sexually transmitted disease. When I went in for my yearly physical, my doctor asked if I wanted to get tested for HIV and STIs. I said I didn’t think I needed it, but he said anyone who is sexually active should get routinely tested. When I tested positive for HIV, I was overwhelmed with guilt, sadness, and anger. If only I had kept to myself and respected my husband’s memory. That is when I knew it was a punishment from God.

Takeaway One: Anyone can contract HIV at any age, including older adults.

Takeaway Two: Preventable diseases are not divine punishment. By taking simple steps, you can protect yourself from HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

Takeaway Three: Myths about HIV only allow the disease to continue to spread. We must work hard to demystify HIV/AIDS so that we can win the war against this ruthless disease.

 

Catalina’s Story:

I am the oldest of four children. My parents worked very hard to put food on the table, often taking two or three jobs at a time. I was used to taking care of my siblings, and never resented it until I met Paco when I was in high school. He was sweet, kind, and said all the right things. We started dating behind my parents’ backs, and almost immediately began to see my family as a burden. The more I rebelled against them, the closer I became with Paco. Soon we were having sex and I didn’t know the first thing about being in a committed and intimate relationship. Sex was never discussed at home, much less as a teenager. Paco didn’t like condoms and I didn’t believe in birth control, so we always had unprotected sex. One day, I found out Paco was cheating on me and it hadn’t been the first time. Around the same time, my parents found out about my relationship and forced me to see the family doctor so he could check if I was still a virgin. To my parents’ chagrin, Dr. Perez reported I was sexually active, and that he wanted me to get tested for STDs, including HIV. I felt two inches tall. I hadn’t cried in my mother’s bosom with such emotion since I was a child. My mom probably was crying harder than me. When the test results came back negative, I promised myself and my parents that I would never be irresponsible with my body and emotions again. I also made a commitment to help other young women make better, wiser life decisions.

Takeaway One: Fully understand the consequences of having sex gives you the power to protect yourself.

Takeaway Two: Hispanic families tend to be close-knit. Leverage that closeness to develop the trust to talk about difficult topics, such as HIV/AIDS.

 

Jessica’s Story:

When I was a newlywed more than 2 decades ago, I was so in love with José and life. Everything seemed better, brighter, and bigger with him by my side. I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him and have a big family together. I’m not sure when things started to change, but I began to notice small behavior changes. He wasn’t as sweet, he would come home late with no explanation, and he was very possessive of his phone. Our love live was nearly extinct, and when we were intimate, I didn’t recognize him anymore. It was as if he had turned into another person, someone very different from the man I had married. I suspected he had a mistress, but didn’t have any evidence. Once I saw a lesion near his genitals, and I asked him what it was. His response was a smack across the face. It left a mark. He told me to shut up and mind my own business. “It got caught in the fly,” he yelled before slamming the door shut behind him. Then, I began to refuse him. One time he forced me to make love. Afterward, I was sore and felt broken. I didn’t know who to talk to, but my sister knew something was wrong. She forced me to see a doctor. After she examined me, we discussed my husband’s behavior. She explained that if he was engaging in risky sexual behavior, he could have exposed me to a sexually transmitted disease or infection. I felt so numb inside and out. She asked me three times if I was okay with getting tested before I barely nodded my head. When I learned I was HIV positive, I felt the world crumbling at my feet. Today, it’s the other way around. I use my condition to protect other women from experiencing a similar fate.

Takeaway One: Fear impairs our judgment and often keep us from from making favorable decisions.

Takeaway Two: Honesty and open, clear communication are key within a committed relationship. Lack of transparency and respect lead to hurtful and even dangerous outcomes.

 

As a proud Latino/Hispanic member of the Act Against AIDS Leadership Initiative, NHCOA works to inform and educate Hispanic families about HIV/AIDS and its impact. The Latino community, as other diverse populations, is disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS. 

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.

 

 

 

 

Join Alicia Keys for the “We Are Empowered” Watch Party

The National  Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA) and the Act Against AIDS Leadership Initiative invite you to join Alicia Keys for a “We Are Empowered” National Watch Party and Discussion about women and HIV/AIDS on Sunday, January 19 from 8-9 p.m. EST. “We Are Empowered” is an intimate and revealing half hour conversation Alicia had with five women living with HIV in the U.S. that will inspire and inform.

We encourage you to get involved in this important conversation by hosting a watch party. Gather your friends and family to watch the “We Are Empowered” video on the Greater Than AIDS website or VH1.com. As you watch, use the discussion guide to foster conversation among your group and share your thoughts with Alicia on Twitter at #WeAreEmpowered.

Whether HIV positive or negative, we all have a role to play in the fight against AIDS. For additional information about the “We Are Empowered” watch party, please visit the Greater Than AIDS site at greaterthan.org/empowered.

Since 2011 NHCOA has been one of three national Hispanic/Latino partners of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Act Against AIDS Leadership Initiative, a multi-year national communication initiative to reduce the incidence of HIV/AIDS among diverse communities. NHCOA uses community outreach and communication efforts to reach and inform Latino senior, their families, and caregivers about HIV/AIDS, as well encourage them to talk HIV in their communities and with loved ones.

What is the Difference Between HIV and AIDS?

The National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA) is proud to be one of three Latino organizations in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Act Against AIDS Leadership Initiative (AAALI). AAALI is a multi-year national communication initiative to reduce the incidence of HIV/AIDS among diverse communities. NHCOA uses community outreach and communication efforts to reach and inform Latino senior, their families, and caregivers about HIV/AIDS, as well encourage them to talk HIV in their communities and with loved ones.

In our conversations and efforts about this issue, HIV and AIDS are often referenced together and by their abbreviations. However, HIV and AIDS are not the same. So, what exactly is the difference?

According to the CDC, Human Immunodeficiency Virus, commonly known as HIV, is a virus that infects humans and weakens the immune system by destroying important cells that fight disease and infection. HIV differs from other viruses because over time the immune system can fight and clear most viruses. However, this isn’t the case with HIV yet. Scientists are still trying to figure out why the human immune system can’t clear HIV once infected.

Over time, HIV can destroy so many of your T-cells – the cells that fight infections and diseases, which are cells that the body requires to fight infections and disease. As a result, HIV can lead to AIDS

Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, commonly known as AIDS, is the final stage of HIV infection. At this stage, the immune systems – which includes all the organs and cells that fight disease – is deficient, or no longer working properly.  Rather than a disease, AIDS is classified as a syndrome, which is a collection of symptoms and signs of disease, because it is a complex illness with a wide range of complications and symptoms.

In order to be diagnosed with AIDS, one must have one or more specific opportunistic infections, certain cancers or a very low number of T-cells. Individuals with AIDS must have medical treatment to prevent death.

Feliz Año Nuevo: New Resolutions for 2014

ae25c3c389bab00310e593f279cd83ca741d828dAs the end of 2013 draws near, people around the world are getting ready to celebrate a new year. While traditions vary in different cultures – from eating grapes to kissing a loved one at midnight – one common tradition that people across many cultures share is making resolutions for a fresh start. This year the NHCOA family encourages you to adopt some new resolutions that will not only improve your life, but the lives of those around you too, including our padres y abuelitos.

  1. Get tested for HIV. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1 in 4 people living with HIV don’t know they have it. One of the best ways we can achieve the goal of making an AIDS-free generation a reality is to stop the spread of HIV by practicing safe sex every time and getting tested for HIV regularly.
  2. Each year resolutions around weight-loss and increased gym attendance prevail. This year try adopting a healthy diet and doing physical activity, such as dancing or walking, in an effort to prevent or manage diabetes.
  3. Get vaccinated against the flu. The height of flu season arrives right after the new year, so it’s still not too late to get your vaccine. And while the flu vaccine may be one of the most well-known vaccines, you may need others. Discuss the vaccines you need with your doctor this year.
  4. Help fight Medicare fraud by becoming a volunteer for the National Hispanic SMP program. Scammers often target Hispanic older adults due to their unique vulnerabilities, including linguistic and cultural barriers, lower levels of formal education and social isolation. By getting involved with the NHSMP, you can help protect our padres y abuelitos from Medicare fraud and strengthen the program for future generations.
  5. Advocate for paid family leave in your state. Twenty years after the passage of the Family and Medicare Leave Act, only about 60 percent of U.S. workers have access to paid leave, putting a huge financial burden on new parents and those with sick family members.
  6. If you don’t have health insurance, sign up for a plan through the marketplace. NHCOA’s Navigators can help you as you decide which plan best meets your needs. In 2014, access to health insurance is no longer a privilege, but a right.

No matter the resolutions you pick, the NHCOA family wishes you a happy and healthy Near Year! Feel free to share your resolutions in the comments section below.

NHCOA Encourages Everyone to Share Responsibility for an AIDS-Free Generation on World AIDS Day

world_logo1Each year World AIDS Day (WAD) is observed on December 1st and provides an opportunity for people around the world to unite in the fight against HIV/AIDS, show their support for people living with HIV/AIDS and commemorate people who have died. WAD was first observed in 1988, making it the first ever international health day. The National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA) encourages everyone to use WAD as a platform to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS in your community and around the world. You can use the materials in NHCOA’s 2013 WAD toolkit to help in your outreach efforts.

More than 25 million people have died of AIDS worldwide since the first case of HIV was observed over 30 years ago in the U.S. What was once considered to be a death sentence is now classified as a manageable chronic disease. While unprecedented advances in medical treatment have been made, there is still much work to be done in the quest to make an AIDS-free generation a reality. Today 33.4 million people are living with HIV/AIDS worldwide.

Domestically, over 1 million people in the U.S. are living with HIV. Hispanics continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Hispanics account for approximately 17 percent of the U.S. population, but comprised 21 perfect of new HIV infections in 2010. As such, the rate of new HIV infections for Hispanics is three times the rate for non-Hispanic whites.

However, HIV/AIDS doesn’t just affect the health of individuals living with it; it impacts families, friends and communities, as well as the development and economic growth of nations. Many of the countries hardest hit by HIV also suffer from other infection diseases, food insecurity and other serious issues.

Although WAD provides a great opportunity to for public discourse about HIV/AIDS, it’s important to continue these efforts throughout the year. This is why NHCOA joined the fight against HIV/AIDS in 2011, becoming 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. NHCOA uses community outreach and communication efforts to reach and inform Latino senior, their families, and caregivers about HIV/AIDS, as well encourage them to talk HIV in their communities and with loved ones.