The last day of Hispanic Heritage Month is dedicated to honoring the National Latinx AIDS Awareness Day 2021 (NLAAD). Every year the NLAAD is observed on October 15, established in response to the overall impact of HIV/AIDS on the Latino/Hispanic communities countrywide, including the District of Columbia, US Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico.
The National Latinx AIDS Awareness Day 2021 is essential. This June marked 40 years since the first reports of the condition came out, which later became HIV. Over these past four decades, tremendous strides have been made in terms of HIV prevention and treatment. However, multiple people still have been left behind in these years. The country still lacks progress in eliminating healthcare disparities of every kind, which then go on to hinder equal access for communities that are disproportionately affected. The Latino/Hispanic community tends to be overrepresented when it comes to HIV in comparison to the overall percentage of the US population.
In 2019, the Latino/Hispanic community made up approximately 18% of the overall US population. Despite this fact, they account for over 30% of the confirmed HIV cases in the country alone. These confirmed cases were marked to be 36,801. National Latinx AIDS Awareness Day 2021 is a day to honor the communities involved and raise awareness with the help of suitable campaigns. These campaigns will further help ward off the complacencies and prevent HIV from spreading.
Understanding Healthcare Disparities
An overall lack of trust in the medical facilities and healthcare of the country, which is brought on by systematic racism, ethnic and racial bias among the healthcare providers - is one of the most significant barriers for these communities when it comes to testing, preventing, educating and treating HIV/AIDS.
This is primarily why the healthcare system needs to become culturally competent when meeting and treating these communities. Culturally appropriate, sensitive, educational, and healthcare interventions are significant to reach out to the Hispanic/Latino community. It is vital to reach out to these marginalized communities since healthcare facilities might never reach them. It is also essential since the Hispanic/Latino communities are hard to reach and do not readily access the right educational interventions.
Outreach efforts like honoring the National Latinx AIDS Awareness Day 2021 are only a tiny part of this more extensive system we are all a part of. Systemic changes are needed to ensure that the right resources and interventions reach the right people at the right time.
Another huge barrier to testing and treatment for the marginalized communities could be due to fear. The fear does not just come from HIV status. If they are undocumented, the fear could be due to them being potentially deported in the future. Despite the American Medical Association policies regarding the ethical obligation to treat everyone in need, regardless of their immigration status, reports of people facing questioning and deportation upon seeking the right medical help can lead to a justified hesitancy to seek healthcare, even for the legal immigrants.
Help is readily available to all people, documented or undocumented. One should only be able to grab it with open arms. Being afraid will only result in a prolonged delay in getting the right help.
Affordable healthcare is also one more concern, especially for people who do not have access to medical insurance. The marginalized communities do not understand that there are resources out there for them, free of cost. Hispanics comprise approximately 18.7% of the total US population, according to the US Census Bureau reports of 2019. However, 28.1% of the population lives in poverty. There are plenty of federally funded programs available to aid such people in fighting HIV financially. The funds aim at covering the overall cost of treatment, medication, and doctor's visits in terms of HIV care. The best part about all these funds? Undocumented people also qualify for them.
Challenges Facing Latinos/Hispanics
This National Latinx AIDS Awareness Day 2021, it is essential to acquaint yourself with the various challenges the Latinos/Hispanics face daily in context to HIV.
High Prevalence Rate
Hispanics and Latino communities face a greater prevalence risk of infection being spread since there are already many people living with HIV.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
These communities also have the third-highest rate for sexually transmitted diseases. The presence of STDs can make it pretty easy for them to be infected by HIV.
Some Latinos/Hispanics tend not to seek the right advice and counseling from others around them because of their immigration status. The community also has a widespread stigma concerning homosexuality and a large-scale fear of discrimination. Their fear of revealing their immigration status due to the possibility of deportation can make them less likely to get the proper access to HIV prevention and treatments.
For some Hispanic/Latino communities, awareness and opportunities are extremely limited because of poverty, lack of health insurance or health care facilities, inadequate education, and language barriers.
One out of every six Hispanics/Latinos with HIV are completely unaware about living with the disease. People who do not know about the condition cannot take advantage of the proper medical access and treatment. They can unknowingly pass HIV to others. More and more Latinos/Hispanics today suffer from HIV when compared to other races and ethnicities. Therefore, these communities have an increased chance of gaining an HIV-positive partner if they have other Hispanic/Latino partners too.
When compared to other communities, Hispanics/Latinos have higher rates of gaining sexually transmitted diseases. Having additional STDs can also increase a person's overall chance of getting/transmitting HIV.
Poverty, lower educational levels, language barriers, and migration patterns may make it pretty hard for some Hispanics/Latinos to get proper access to the right healthcare facilities and treatment. People of these communities who are also undocumented may be less likely to use HIV preventative measures, get a test done, or get the proper treatment because of their concerns about their potential deportation.
Though not highly unique, the community's stigma, fear, homophobia, and discrimination can impact these people's lives. These issues can put several of them at an increased risk of being diagnosed with HIV.
Observing The National Latinx AIDS Awareness Day 2021
So, how do you actually observe and honor the National Latinx AIDS Awareness Day 2021?
If you are a part of the Hispanic/Latinos community, get tested. There are plenty of testing sites that will welcome you with open arms to get you tested for free. Encourage others around you to get tested too. Pass the word around about the free testing options; you will end up helping someone.
Stigma about HIV exists in various communities, which can prove to be a significant barrier to seeking the right health care. This should be taken care of by you. Ensure you are spreading the right message about the disease and how the stigma should not be present. Ensure you can reduce the stigma surrounding HIV by posting thoughtful messages and images on your social media. You can also sit down and talk to your friends and family about the same.
On National Latinx AIDS Awareness Day 2021, remember that it all starts with awareness and acknowledgment. It starts by accepting the fact that the problem persists. Only then can we reach a solution to curb such issues that are highly impacting the lives of our marginalized communities. By taking the proper steps and suitable measures, we can all do something to prevent the problem from worsening.
This National Latinx AIDS Awareness Day 2021, take a pledge to help those around you.
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