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National Latino AIDS Awareness Day is Monday

WOODSTOCK – The McHenry County Department of Health recognizes Monday as National Latino AIDS Awareness Day, a campaign aimed at engaging the Hispanic/Latino community in promoting HIV awareness through testing, prevention and education.

This year’s theme is “Hispanics United to End AIDS.”

The health department offers free and confidential HIV testing and counseling for high-risk individuals, with results in less than an hour, as well as testing for sexually transmitted infections for those at risk, for a fee.

For an appointment, call 815-334-4500.

The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than 200,000 Latinos have been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. The rate of new infections among Latino men is more than double that of white men. The rate of HIV infection among Latino women is nearly four times that of white women.

As of December 2011, 123 people in McHenry County were living with HIV or AIDS – 51 with HIV and 72 with AIDS.

Steps Latinos can take include getting tested to find out whether they are HIV positive; seeking early medical care if they are HIV positive to protect themselves and their partners; protecting themselves and others from HIV through safe sex practices; and educating themselves about HIV.

The CDC said the impact of HIV on Hispanics/Latinos is not directly related to race or ethnicity, but rather to challenges faced by some communities, including lower awareness of HIV status, poverty, access to care, stigma, the process of adopting the cultural traits or social patterns of another group, and homophobia.

To get the facts about HIV, visit www.actagainstaids.org. For information, call the health department at 815-334-4500.

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