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NCLR-CSULB Latino Center Gets Grant for HIV/AIDS Project

Published: July 1, 2010

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has awarded a two-year, nearly $500,000 grant to the National Council of La Raza-Cal State Long Beach (NCLR-CSULB) Center for Latino Community Health, Evaluation and Training for a project aimed at reducing the instances of HIV infection among U.S. Latinas and their families.

The project, called “Hablando Claro” or “Straight Talk,” is focused on reducing HIV infection among U.S. Latina teens ages 12-18, and their female family peers by creating a cross-generational HIV/AIDS prevention intervention that will be implemented in Los Angeles County. The grant was awarded by HHS’ Office of Women’s Health.

“Latinos continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV and AIDS,” said Britt Rios-Ellis, founding director of the NCLR-CSULB Center and a professor of health science at CSULB. “Although Hispanics accounted for 15 percent of the U.S. population in 2006, they comprised 19 percent of those diagnosed with AIDS and 18 percent of those newly diagnosed with HIV. In fact, Latinas represent 16 percent of all new HIV infections with an incidence rate four times that for white women.

“Furthermore, Hispanic women represent 22 percent of all AIDS cases among Latinos and adolescent Latinas account for 19 percent of AIDS cases among teens and 23 percent of cases among 20- to 24-year-olds,” she continued. “These data indicate that Latinos have the second-highest rates of HIV and AIDS for any racial/ethnic group after African Americans.”

Through the NCLR/CSULB Center, the project will provide a culturally based intervention to assist Latina teens in Los Angeles County in decreasing barriers to HIV/AIDS communication within the family and across generations.

The goal of “Hablando Claro” is to increase teen Latina awareness HIV/AIDS and reduce the risk of new HIV infections among the teen population. The project will improve cross-generational communications about sexual health within Latino families and provide messages about sexual, physical and emotional well-being.

“Many teens 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 that appeals to the risk that teen Latinas experience in the context of their daily lives is crucial to assure effective HIV/AIDS prevention,” she explained.

The center hopes to reach a total of 630 Latinas—450 teens and 180 adults. The intervention will be pilot tested with 25 Latina families in Los Angeles. Promotoras (peer health educators) will be used to conduct the intervention and focus groups. 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 among teens and access to prevention-related information and sexual and reproductive health care.

The intervention components include two four-hour educational sessions, the integration of parents into specific educational session activities, and two community-wide events, such as health fairs. The promotoras are an important component of the program.

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

–Rick Gloady