California State University, Long Beach
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CSULB Takes Part In XIX International AIDS Conference

Published: August 1, 2012

A group of faculty, staff and students from the National Council of La Raza/CSULB (NCLR/CSULB) Center for Latino Community Health, Evaluation and Leadership Training traveled to Washington, D.C. recently to take part in the XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012), which ran from July 22 to 28.

Featuring leading speakers from the worlds of science, diplomacy, politics, philanthropy and entertainment, AIDS 2012 in Washington, D.C., represented the first time this international conference was held on U.S. soil in nearly two decades, thanks to the lifting of the travel ban for HIV positive individuals by the Obama administration.

The CSULB contingent hosted a one-day forum, in conjunction with the Latino Commission on AIDS, on July 22 titled “The Latino/Hispanic HIV Community Research Forum: ¡Creando una Red Para un Futuro Sin VIH/SIDA!” The free forum was offered as a satellite meeting leading up to the opening of the XIX International AIDS Conference. It was sponsored by the National Institutes of Health Office of AIDS Research Initiative on AIDS in Hispanic Communities.

The forum took place in large part to the work of Britt Rios-Ellis, director of the NCLR/CSULB Center and a professor of health science on campus. Rios-Ellis is a past elected co-chair of the National Latino AIDS Action Network, the co-director of the forum and is recognized as a national leader on Latino AIDS issues.

Because of their involvement in community research, three NCLR/CSULB Center interns—Jazmyn Marquez and Yurico Gutierrez (both 2012 master’s in public health graduates) and Jessica Aguilar (a 2012 master’s in social work graduate)—were selected among a national pool of applicants to be AIDS 2012 Community Volunteers. The students volunteered at the satellite meeting and volunteered at the Global Village, gaining a mixture of knowledge, networking and hands-on experience. Together, these graduates received more than $8,000 in support to enable them to attend and volunteer at the conference.

Additionally five NCLR/CSULB staff members were selected as “embajadores” or ambassadors—Melawhy Garcia-Vega, Mayra Rascón, Natalia Gatdula, Jaina Pallasigui and Maria Victoria Rojas. Embajadores are participating in knowledge and cultural exchanges among Latino leaders with the aim of promoting best practices in HIV/AIDS, effective local responses to HIV/AIDS, development of national/international relationships, and enhancement of cultural understanding. Together, they received more than $15,000 in support to attend the conference.

AIDS conference
Part of the CSULB contingent attending the conference in Washington D.C. were (l-r) Natalia Gatdula, Britt Rios-Ellis, Melawhy Garcia-Vega and Maria Victoria Rojas.

The free Global Village was held concurrently with AIDS 2012 to open up information sharing to the public. The village showcased more than 50 diverse HIV/AIDS community programs from across the Caribbean, Central America, South America, Mexico and the United States. CSULB’s Enrique Rios-Ellis hosted a unique workshop at the village using both corridos and boleros, Mexican and Latin American narrative and romantic songs in poetry format, for participants to tell their stories about HIV/AIDS. A popular musical genre, historically and today, corridos are used to tell stories of oppression, resistance and lessons from daily life while boleros are often used to tell stories of love and heartache.

Objectives of CSULB’s one-day forum were to highlight community-based participatory research efforts related to prevention, outreach, testing, and treatment; disseminate information on rates of HIV/AIDS among Latino communities; and discuss effective Latino-focused prevention efforts in the United States. Ultimately, the forum goal was to establish a strong network of HIV/AIDS researchers, clinicians, service providers, and community leaders to build Latino-centered research collaborations and enhance shared resources, strategies, and best practices to employ in the fight against HIV and AIDS in Hispanic communities across the nation.

Using community-based participatory research methods, the NCLR/CSULB Center has developed and implemented a number of HIV/AIDS prevention interventions for the Latino community, including an anti-stigma HIV prevention project known as “Salud es Cultura;” an HIV testing project titled “Protégé tu Familia: Hazte la Prueba;” and a family-based HIV/STI prevention project called “Hablando Claro.” CSULB students, community health workers from the center and community-based organization collaborators throughout the United States and Puerto Rico have played an integral part in the implementation of these projects.

For more information, contact the NCLR/CSULB Center for Latino Community Health, Evaluation and Leadership Training at 562/985-5312.

–Mara Bird