Turning the Tide Together for U.S. Hispanics: International AIDS Conference Hub at NYU Examine's Disease's Heavy Impact on Latinos

An International AIDS Conference hub event was held for the New York metro area on Wednesday, January 23, at New York University, featuring a dialogue among researchers, physicians, and local public health officials on what needs to be done to turn the tide in the HIV/AIDS epidemic for Latinos in New York City, nationally, and around the world.

The event -- Turning the Tide Together for U.S. Hispanics: Rebuilding our HIV Prevention Toolbox -- took place at the Kimmel Center for University Life at New York University. It was co-sponsored by the Center for Latino Adolescent and Family Health (CLAFH) at NYU's Silver School of Social Work and the Latino Commission on AIDS.

The U.S. HIV/AIDS epidemic is at a turning point. While many consider the disease manageable due to a comprehensive arsenal of prevention tools and strategies, infection rates are stubbornly high among certain of the most-at-risk populations in the country -- including Latinos, who make up 16.7 percent of the country but 20 percent of all new cases.

"Latinos remain disproportionately affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and warrant greater attention with regard to prevention and treatment," commented CLAFH Co-Director and NYU Silver School Professor Vincent Guilamo-Ramos. "We have the specific strategies to make a difference, but large challenges remain in linking Latino communities to these tools."

Attendees watched video clips of speeches from the conference and heard reaction from panelists that included Guilamo-Ramos; Latino Commission on AIDS Vice President Miriam Y. Vega; Monica Sweeney of the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene; Eric L. Sawyer of the United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS; AIDS activists; and people living with the disease.

Scientific tools are available and if delivered effectively, the beginning of an AIDS-free generation can be a reality. HIV positive Latinos, however, face vast gaps along the continuum of HIV/AIDS care, which limits the effectiveness of the current arsenal of strategies for HIV prevention and treatment. Of the 220,400 Latinos infected with HIV in the U.S., only 26 percent achieve viral suppression -- when HIV is at a level that it can no longer be detected in the blood. Part of the day's discussion addressed how to better connect Latinos to these tools in order to turn the tide in HIV/AIDS for U.S. Latinos.

Said Guillermo Chacon, president of the Latino Commission on AIDS, who participated in the conference: "Now more than ever it is crucial that we bring together diverse partners for conversations like these. The International AIDS Conference provided us with new momentum to reach an AIDS free generation, including among racial and sexual minorities."

About the Center for Latino Adolescent and Family Heath
The Center for Latino Adolescent and Family Health (CLAFH) is a research center at New York University's Silver School of Social Work that investigates the role of parents in shaping the development and well-being of adolescents. Its research addresses key issues among Latino and other families and seeks to foster the development and evaluation of evidence-based interventions to prevent and reduce problem behaviors among youth. Specifically, CLAFH seeks to: 1) foster the development, evaluation, and dissemination of evidence-based family interventions designed to prevent and/or reduce problem behaviors among Latino adolescents; 2) develop, evaluate, and disseminate family interventions for positive youth development approaches to Latino adolescent development and well-being; 3) examine issues of immigration related to the experiences of Latino families; and 4) promote the economic well-being of the Latino community. Strategically based in New York City, CLAFH addresses the needs of New York's diverse Latino communities in both national and global contexts. The Center serves as a link between the scientific community, Latino health and social service providers, and the broader Latino community.

About the Latino Commission on AIDS
The Latino Commission on AIDS ("the Commission") is a nonprofit organization dedicated to fighting the spread of HIV/AIDS in the Latino community. The Commission realizes its mission by spearheading health advocacy for Latinos, promoting HIV education, developing model prevention programs for high-risk communities, and by building capacity in community organizations. Through its extensive network of community organizations and leaders, the Commission works to mobilize an effective Latino community response to the health disparities created by HIV/AIDS. Since 1995, the Commission has steadily expanded its services outside New York to meet the emerging needs of Latino communities on a national level including more than 40 States, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.