This article originally appeared as an op-ed in The Hill newspaper.
by Chrissie Juliano, MPP, Director of the Big Cities Health Coalition
October 15 will mark National Latinx AIDS Day across America, which is an opportunity to take stock of the great strides made towards defeating the virus and eliminating the stigma it can create. (The term Latinx serves as a gender-neutral alternative to Latino/Latina).
Science has come a long way since HIV and AIDS became a part of the national consciousness in the early 1980’s, but as experts have learned, if those advances are not shared with everyday people, and if awareness about the disease and how to prevent it does not grow, then disease rates can continue to climb, despite breakthroughs in the laboratory.
This is where public health expertise makes the difference. According to the American Public Health Association, public health promotes and protects the health of people and the communities where they live, learn, work and play. Several American cities have created innovative strategies to lower AIDS and HIV rates by speaking directly to Hispanic residents – especially youth – about how they can be proactive in protecting themselves and their partners. The theme of the day this year is “Defeat AIDS, con GANAS” ('with our wholehearted efforts,') and perhaps no city embodies that spirit more than Houston. Policy makers all over the country should take notice of their work.