Silence Equals Stigma

Around ASF Blog
Volume 1 / Entry 8
March 29, 2012

Hello friends,

ASF has just begun collaboration with the Mexican Consulate in Santa Ana. ASF health educators will be at the consulate once a month to provide HIV testing, free of charge, to anyone who desires to know their status.

This is extremely important in this community which is most heavily affected by new HIV infections in Orange County. Of course it’s important for people to get tested and be aware of their status. We all know that much is true. But even more important for this community, is to have HIV out in the open for people to see.

HIV and AIDS have a debilitating stigma in the Latino community. No one wants to talk about it, whether they are infected or not. The use of condoms during sexual contact to protect oneself from infection is not openly discussed. Thus, the virus is allowed to proliferate.

ASF has hosted health fairs and offered testing at the Mexican Consulate many times in the past, most recently during National Latino AIDS Awareness Day activities last October. We have a very good relationship with them thanks in no small part to these outreach activities. However, we expect, with the normalization of testing at the consulate, the effect on the community’s view of the disease will be nothing short of miraculous.

With a testing site appearing at the consulate monthly, it will significantly reduce the stigma of the disease in the eyes of the community. Hopefully, it may even start a dialogue among Santa Ana’s Latino residents.

Of the few methods we have to combat the disease, education outreach and testing are THE most important. This is especially true in a community that would just as soon sweep a diagnosis under the carpet than talk about it and get help. Hopefully, this program with the Mexican Consulate will foster new attitudes about HIV and AIDS in the community.

By the way, ASF provided 22 free, rapid HIV tests at our first day at the consulate. A good start!

Thanks for reading!

Marc Montminy
Director of Communications and Public Relations

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