Utah AETC (AIDS Education & Training Center) brought together health care professionals and organization partners to attend Utah’s 1st Annual HIV Prevention in Primary Care Conference. This three-day conference, including the Transgender pre-conference, covered and clarified information about Utah’s current state of prevention and care, and how PrEP is an important aspect of HIV prevention.
Comunidades Unidas (CU), an organization dedicated to empowering the Latino community, attended the conference. CU has a team of Promotoras (Community Health Workers) who are a vital part of preventative health in our community.
The conference covered important material for current and future health care providers to understand and implement care in their practice. We learned the basic but necessary information about PrEP, the current state of prevention and care in Utah, statistics of HIV/AIDS/STIs, and the history of HIV/AIDS in the U.S. and Utah.
The most interesting topic of discussion is a concept Dr. Susana Keeshin explained: “The bar before the bars”. Racism, homophobia, poverty, stigma and other social determinants are the bars that prevent people from seeking the proper care needed, or simply getting tested for HIV. For instance, the Salt Lake City Health Department offers free HIV testing for men who have sex with men (MSM), but what if we have patients or clients who might be afraid to disclose that they are having sex with men? In some Latino communities, the fear of disclosing their sexual orientation due to a lack of support from friends and family can prevent them from seeking testing and treatment. There is also a mistrust of the healthcare system from the Latino community. Undocumented Latinos may be less likely to seek care for HIV due to the fear of being discriminated and reported. Similar issues are also a concern for African Americans, American Indians/Alaska Natives, Asians, and Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders. The medical community has advanced treatment options and continues to promote prevention efforts, but unless we address “The bar” we will continue to see rates of undiagnosed individuals.
Comunidades Unidas continues to provide educational sessions about HIV/AIDS, and references/referrals to care and treatment in Utah. Recently, our interns and volunteers completed a training to learn general information about HIV/AIDS, understand the barriers our Latino community encounter, and be informed about our efforts and services that best fit our community’s needs.
We are currently working to collaborate with organizations to provide free or low-cost HIV/STD screenings at our partnered mobile clinics. We look forward to many more opportunities for our project “PrEP for your future/PrEParate para tu futuro” to develop and empower the Latino community.
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HIV/AIDS. (2018, November 01). Retrieved July 14, 2019, from https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/group/racialethnic/hispaniclatinos/index.html
Wilson, P. A., PhD. (2017, June 10). ADDRESSING STIGMA Toolkit. Retrieved July 1, 2019, from http://www.ncsddc.org/resource/addressing-stigma/
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