For Immediate Release
October 13, 2008

KDHE Office of Communications
communications@kdheks.gov, 785-296-0461

October 15 is National Latino AIDS Awareness Day

October 15 marks the 6 th Annual National Latino AIDS Awareness Day (NLAAD). NLAAD raises awareness of issues concerning HIV/AIDS with the Hispanic/Latino population living in Kansas, the U.S. and abroad. NLAAD is a day to encourage HIV testing and to seek support from community leaders for efforts to reduce the impact of HIV.

“When we look at newly diagnosed HIV cases in Kansas by race and ethnicity from 2000 through 2007, we have seen a 45.5 percent increase among the Latino community,” said L. William Lyons, director of the HIV/AIDS program at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE). “Getting tested is the first step in taking care of yourself and those you care about.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends persons at high risk for HIV infection be screened at least annually. It takes approximately 10 years to develop AIDS after being infected with HIV. From 2000 through 2006, Latinos in Kansas generally waited longer before being tested and were tested later in the course of their disease than other groups. From 2000 through 2006, 67 percent of Hispanics/Latinos were diagnosed with AIDS within one year of their HIV diagnosis. This compares to African Americans at 61 percent and whites at 58 percent.

In 2007, a total of 223 HIV/AIDS cases were reported in Kansas. Of those cases, 29 percent were African Americans and 14 percent were Hispanics/Latinos, even though Hispanics/Latinos represent only 9 percent of the state’s population.

“We encourage health care providers to continue to deliver services and educational messages that are effective and deal with this issue in a sensitive way,” stated Sharon Goolsby, director of the KDHE Center for Health Disparities. “This is critical if we are going to eliminate the disproportionate impact of HIV upon the Hispanic community in Kansas.”

Several events are planned throughout Kansas in recognition of NLAAD:

Kansas residents who are at risk for HIV can get tested at one of more than 100 sites in the state. Contact your local health department or the KDHE HIV/STD Section at 785-296-6174 for the location nearest you. HIV testing information is also available on the KDHE website at www.kdheks.gov/hiv/counsul_testing.html . A downloadable statewide guide of HIV/STD services can be accessed through the KDHE website at www.kdheks.gov/hiv/download/quick_guide.pdf. Additional information can be accessed at www.cdc.gov/hiv/ or www.nlaad.org .