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HIV/AIDS Prevention

Monday, September 15, 2014   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Joy Ingram
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HIV/AIDS Prevention in Farmworker Communities

by Farmworker Justice

NWRPCA is beginning a new partnership with Farmworker Justice to promote HIV/AIDS prevention in farmworker communities across the United States. As a proud partner of CDC's Act Against AIDS Leadership Initiative (AAALI), Farmworker Justice works to increase HIV/AIDS awareness, knowledge, and action in Latino and farmworker communities nationwide.

HIV in the Community

HIV is just one of the many health concerns for farmworkers, but one that is often hard to ascertain due to stigma and discrimination in many farmworker and rural communities. In addition, a large gap exists in the research and data on the rates of HIV and AIDS among US farmworkers. Although the actual rate of HIV/AIDS in farmworker communities is unknown, we do know that it affects Latinos at a disproportionate rate. Approximately 1 in 36 Hispanic/Latino men and 1 in 106 Hispanic/Latino women will be diagnosed with HIV in their lifetime. Latinos make up 16% of the U.S. population, but account for 21% of all new HIV infections each year (source: CDC). And the majority (approximately 83%) of farmworkers self-identify as Hispanic and/or Latino. We also know that HIV and AIDS take an especially heavy toll on the most vulnerable and marginalized groups in U.S. society. Poverty, low income, limited education, substandard housing, and limited access to health care contribute to increased rates of infection in any given population. HIV may not be a direct occupational hazard of farm work like pesticide exposure or heat stroke, but farmworkers in the U.S. undeniably contend with these other conditions. Moreover, their isolation, status as recent immigrants, and migration for work contribute to low acculturation, which in turn indirectly influences many HIV risk factors.

Confounding the problem is the current lack of health care options for farmworkers and their inability to easily access HIV prevention, treatment, and care. Farmworkers often lack health insurance and even when free or low cost health care is available, there are obstacles like transportation, non-traditional work hours, and fear due to immigration status that keep them from accessing services. A strong relationship between health centers and farmworker communities could provide much needed education and awareness on HIV/AIDS knowledge and risks. Farmworker Justice is dedicated to working together with farmworker communities and migrant health centers (MHCs) to build stronger relationships and lasting ties. It is not only important for health centers to include HIV/AIDS prevention in their outreach, but it is also important for farmworkers to utilize their health centers in order to receive the care they need. HIV and AIDS are often surrounded by fears of stigma and discrimination and only through strong relationships and trust will prevention efforts be successful.

What Can We Do?

October 15th is National Latino HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NLAAD). NLAAD was established in response to the impact of HIV and AIDS on Hispanic/Latino communities nationwide and focuses on the importance of raising HIV awareness, promotion of HIV testing, prevention and education. It is an opportunity to talk about the importance of getting tested and the availability of treatment and care in our communities. As part of NLAAD and our collaboration with NWRPCA, Farmworker Justice is offering to work closely with interested MHCs to provide a small sampling of HIV prevention materials to use on NLAAD. Each interested MHC will receive a box with HIV prevention materials including posters, fact sheets, pamphlets, etc. to display and distribute anytime during the month of October. They will also receive an email with links to more print-outs, resources, and materials that they can print on their own. If interested, FJ can also work with a small group of MHCs to connect them to local HIV organizations that might be able to provide testing and/or a speaker for any events throughout the month (health fairs, presentations at the MHC, etc.). Unfortunately, this is not guaranteed because there are not always local HIV organizations available to partner, but we will try our best.

It is our hope that as many of the MHCs as possible will join in on 15 October to help spread the word about the importance of HIV prevention, getting tested, and learning one's HIV status. As part of Farmworker Justice's Aliados partnership, you can help us reach critical networks and communities--farmworkers, older adults, youth, and rural Latinos --to encourage more dialogue about HIV/AIDS and to increase HIV awareness, knowledge, and action in a culturally, linguistically, and educationally competent manner.

If you'd be interested in participating in NLAAD, receiving materials, and/or connecting with a local HIV organization, please reach out to Caitlin Ruppel, AAALI Project Coordinator at cruppel@farmworkerjustice.org or 202-293-5420. Materials may take a week or two to arrive, so the earlier we know you are interested, the quicker we can send the materials out!

NWRPCA welcomes and regularly publishes white papers and articles submitted by members, partners and associates with subject matter expertise. The appearance of any guest publication in our Health Center News database represents the views of the author and does not constitute endorsement by NWRPCA of the stated opinions or perspectives, nor does it suggest endorsement of the contributor's products or services.

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