The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has awarded a $249,862 grant to the National Council of La Raza-CSULB Center for Latino Community Health, Evaluation and Leadership Training (NCLR-CSULB Center for Latino Community Health) for a project aimed at reducing the instances of HIV infection among U.S. Latinas and their families.
The project, called “Rompe el Silencio” or “Break the Silence,” will focus on creating and strengthening HIV/AIDS prevention interventions targeting Latinas and their families. Through a collaborative effort of the NCLR-CSULB Center, the Center for Health Care Innovation, the East Los Angeles Women’s Center (ELAWC) and AltaMed Health Services, the project will provide a culturally based intervention to assist Latinas in East Los Angeles in decreasing barriers to HIV/AIDS communication within the family and across generations.
“In Los Angeles County, Latinos represent 43 percent of those living with AIDS in 2004 compared to 27 percent in 1992,” noted Britt Rios-Ellis, CSULB professor of health science, director of the NCLR-CSULB Center and principal investigator for the project. “Within the past three years (2001-04), Latinos represent the only ethnic group to have experienced a doubling of heterosexual infection among males and females.”
Over that three-year period, the Latino heterosexual infection among females rose from 23 to 51 percent while the increase in males went from 5 to 11 percent, indicating a major area of concern for those working in HIV/AIDS prevention.
The center will conduct 10 focus groups with 10-12 Latinas of diverse age groups who are at risk for infection to ascertain the factors in their lives that act as barriers to accessing prevention/education services and HIV testing. These findings will illuminate the context of risk for Latinas and help determine the types of intergenerational approaches that would be effective in reaching Latinas and their families.
Focus groups will be conducted in English and Spanish to enable a clearer understanding of the impact of acculturation and communication on HIV/AIDS risk and access to prevention-related information and sexual and reproductive health care, as well as to discuss the proposed pilot intervention.
ELAWC promtores (peer health educators) and AltaMed HIV/AIDS staff will recruit three tiers of testing using a specific outreach protocol that first works with women of similar age groups and then conducts research with groups of Latinas of different ages.
“Many women in the Latino community have not been adequately targeted with culturally and linguistically relevant HIV/AIDS prevention information. This has led to the perception that only gay males, injection drug users and sex workers are at risk,” Rios-Ellis pointed out. “Unfortunately, this neglect has led to HIV infection among many Latinas who have not historically been perceived as at-risk for HIV. Getting the word out in a culturally relevant manner which appeals to the risk that Latinas experience in the context of their daily lives is crucial to assure effective HIV/AIDS prevention.”
For more information about the project, call 562/985-5312.