For Immediate Release
October 6, 2011

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

National Latino AIDS Awareness Day is October 15

Topeka -  The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) announces that Oct. 15 is National Latino AIDS Awareness Day.

Nationally, Latinos make up about 15 percent of the population but represent 17 percent of new HIV infections each year, at a rate 2.5 times that of whites. In Kansas, Latinos make up about 9.3 percent of the state population but represented 19 percent of newly diagnosed HIV/AIDS cases in the state in 2009. It is clear from these statistics that Latinos are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS in our country and state.

The theme of National Latino AIDS Awareness Day this year is “Latinos Unite! Let’s Stay Healthy! Get Tested for HIV!” KDHE encourages all Kansans to get tested, regardless of how low risk you consider yourself. Knowing your HIV status now and getting proper healthcare if you are HIV-positive is much better than finding out too late.

“The first step in preventing HIV from becoming AIDS is to be tested and be tested early,” said Brenda Walker, Director of KDHE’s Bureau of Disease Control and Prevention. “For 2010, 57 percent of the newly diagnosed HIV cases in Kansas were also AIDS diagnoses. Those who first learn of their HIV status when they already have AIDS have less likelihood of keeping their immune systems healthy long term. Testing is crucial for people who are engaging in behaviors that can transmit HIV. Knowing your HIV status is critical.”

So, why not get tested for HIV today? You can find free testing at many local health departments and community-based organizations by visiting www.hivtest.org.

Several events are planned across the state to commemorate National Latino AIDS Awareness Day in October, including:

For more information, contact Olivia Burchett at 785-843-0040.

For more information about HIV prevention and testing in Kansas, please contact Travis Barnhart, HIV Prevention Director at KDHE, at 785-296-1037. You can learn more about National Latino AIDS Awareness Day by visiting www.nlaad.org.