National Latino AIDS Awareness Day in Chicago, Oct. 17

Wed. October 9, 2013 8:29 AM by News Staff

Center on Halsted hosts National Latino AIDS Awareness Day activities on Thur., Oct. 17

Chicago, IL - This year marks the 11th annual observance of National Latino AIDS Awareness Day (NLAAD) and Chicago's Center on Halsted is marking the occasion on Thursday, Oct. 17 with community-centered events to unite the Hispanic/Latino community to raise awareness of HIV, promote HIV testing, prevention and education, in addition to other critical health issues. 

NLAAD is one of a series of National HIV/AIDS Awareness Days occurring throughout the year that focus on various communities. The goal of these observances is to promote HIV/AIDS awareness and to ensure that community members get tested for HIV. This year's NLAAD theme is "Commit to Speak"/"Comprométete a Hablar."

As part of this year's activities, Center on Halsted, 3656 N. Halsted, will host a community conversation from 3 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. with keynote speaker, Dr. Bechara Choucair, Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, to discuss the importance of HIV testing and awareness within the Hispanic/Latino LGBTQ community in Chicago's north side and the impact of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS) and Healthy Chicago documents in community HIV prevention efforts. 

A Resource Fair with Hispanic/Latino-serving organizations will follow the community discussion from 5:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m., then an evening reception with performances and displays from local artists until 8:30 p.m.

In 2009, Latinos accounted for 20% of new HIV infections in the United States while representing approximately 16% of the total US population, according to figures from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The numbers indicate Latinos are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS. 

In Chicago, the Latino population accounts for 17% of the city's reported cases of HIV, which is similar to the national trend. Locally, one statistic that stands out is the number of HIV-positive men who have sex with men ( MSM ) who were not aware of their HIV infection. For Latino MSM, 21% of those HIV-infected were not aware of their infection in 2011. 

"As a gay Latino man who has been HIV positive for six years, I know the meaning and power that comes with getting tested and being an informed individual," Christian Castro, MA, JSI Study Coordinator at Center on Halsted. "Finding out my status really reinforced my belief in taking an active role in my health care with my medical provider. What my personal experience mirrored is what various studies have indicated, that knowing one's status and engaging in quality health care leads to better health outcomes."

Free, rapid HIV testing will be provided from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. for individuals on a walk-in basis. 

Center on Halsted is partnering with health officials, community service providers, civil-rights organizations, faith-based organizations, and researchers to observe NLAAD. Those participating include: Access Community Health Network ( ACCESS ); aChurch4Me Metropolitan Community Church ( MCC ); the Association of Latino Men in Action ( ALMA ); CALOR; Chicago Department of Public Health ( CDPH ); Circuit Night Club; Lambda Legal; National Museum of Mexican Art; Project PrEPare; Project VIDA; Queer Tango; Ruth M. Rothstein CORE Center; Test Positive Aware Network ( TPAN ), United Latino Pride; and Vida/SIDA.

"We've never done anything as big as this before." Tom Elliot, director of public relations for the Center on Halsted, told Windy City Times. "In the past, we've organized events in the past around World AIDS Day and NLAAD, but this year we're working with a lot of other community organizations to make a full day out of it."

Participants are invited to join Centro de tu Noche (Center of your Night), the weekly, HIV outreach and testing initiative for the Hispanic/Latino community in partnership with Circuit Nightclub, 3641 N. Halsted, later that night from 10:30 p.m. - 2:00 a.m.

For more information and to register to attend the National Latino AIDS Awareness Day at Center on Halsted, visit