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FOR RELEASE: October 3 , 2006
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

National Latino AIDS Awareness Day, October 15

To mark a special day of awareness and prevention against HIV/AIDS in the Latino community, the Latino Commission on AIDS, the Hispanic Federation, cities across the nation, and the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) will recognize the 4th Annual National Latino AIDS Awareness Day on Sunday, Oct. 15. This year’s theme is “Knowledge is Power. Get the Facts. Get Tested for HIV - Saber es Poder. Infórmate. Hazte la Prueba del VIH.”

“National Latino AIDS Awareness Day is mobilizing those in the Latino communities to take action by getting tested and educating themselves and their families about this terrible disease,” said Michael Harmon, chief, OSDH HIV/STD Service.

Denise Cruz, HIV/AIDS coordinator for the Latino Community Development Agency in Oklahoma City said, “The Latino community has struggled far too long with HIV/AIDS infection. It has been 25 years since this horrible disease began to cripple the livelihood of our culture and yet, nationally, Latinos today account for 20 percent of those living with HIV/AIDS in the United States.”

Cruz said limited access to prevention, testing and care, as well as cultural and linguistic barriers contribute to the disproportion of HIV/AIDS infections in the Latino community. “As a result, Latinos have one of the highest rates of progression from HIV to AIDS in the country,” she added.

According to OSDH cumulative data for 2005, the latest data available, five percent (127 cases) of HIV cases reported in Oklahoma were diagnosed in the Hispanic population, and four percent (193 cases) of AIDS cases were diagnosed in the Hispanic population. Hispanics make up six percent of Oklahoma’s population.

For information about Latino Awareness Day activities, contact Denise Cruz at the Latino Community Development Agency in Oklahoma City, (405) 236-0701; Lizette Merchan at Planned Parenthood in Tulsa, (918) 587-1101; or Kate Neary-Pounds at HOPE in Tulsa, (918) 749-8378. For a complete list of National Latino AIDS Awareness Day activities occurring throughout the U.S., visit www.nlaad.org.

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