HIV Specialist - June 2021 - 10

ON THE
FRONTLINES
Sounding the Alarm on the Rising Health Crisis
within the Latinx community
BY GUILLERMO CHACÓN, PRESIDENT, LATINO COMMISSION ON AIDS AND FOUNDER OF THE HISPANIC HEALTH NETWORK
A
LTHOUGH MAJOR ADVANCEMENTS in research and treatment have been made in the past
three decades, Latinx communities continue to be disproportionately impacted by HIV. HIV
disease and the fear and stigma that go with it impacts more than 195,000 Hispanic/Latino
men in the U.S. and its territories, including Puerto Rico.
To address this rising issue within the Latino community, we
partnered with ViiV Healthcare to explore the impact of HIV among
Latino gay and bisexual men. To learn from men's experiences
overcoming these forces and to tell the stories behind the statistics,
we looked at men's daily lives and the social networks that help fuel
and sustain their resilience. Through interactive, community-guided
listening, we heard stories of how men are confronting internal and
external challenges by holding up a mirror to their own lives, building
strength and resilience and striving to create communities that help
them feel whole and sustain them when they falter or feel vulnerable.
The result was Tal Como Soy/Here as I Am, a community research
report delving into socio-economic forces affecting access to HIV care
for Latinx gay and bisexual men. Our findings found five key insights
for this community:
■ Family and community are central to the lives and identities of
Latinx men, shaping their health and wellness for better or worse
■ Interruptions in care happen for many reasons beyond Latinx men's
control.
■ Anti-immigrant sentiment and anti-immigrant laws have a powerful
effect on Latinx men's health.
■ Latinx men want diverse and responsive care that reflects their
needs, identity and language.
■ Networks and services by and for Latinx men, especially youth, can
help link and keep men in care.
Beyond these critical insights, Tal Como Soy suggests addressing
the barriers to HIV care for Latinx men who have sex with men
(MSM) involves a holistic approach that considers their multiple
identities - as sons and brothers, as gay, bisexual or trans men, as
men living with HIV and as Latinx men - and focuses on expanding
accessibility and availability of health services. Here is a deeper look
at these insights.
Insight One: Family and community are central to the lives
and identities of Latinx men, shaping their health and wellness
for better or worse
10 JUNE 2021 HIVSPECIALIST WWW.AAHIVM.ORG
Latinx communities in the U.S. face many of
the same challenges as other communities of
color, including poverty, poor access to education,
inadequate housing, and unreliable or
unsafe public transportation, all of which impact
health outcomes. I've seen firsthand that
the impact of HIV and HIV-related stigma
on communities of color, including Latinos,
manifests everywhere. Larger organizations
may provide more resources and ultimately
more support; however, people can face
isolation due to stigma, whether in big cities
or rural communities. As HIV advocates, our
goal is to build more inclusive and healthy
communities where these individuals facing
stigma feel safe. With that, putting an end to
HIV-related stigma is a crucial step in ending
the HIV epidemic.
There are many layers of stigma that
the Latino MSM community faces. These
stigmas can exist in overlapping spheres
of men's lives, including their families of
origin, their culture, Latinx gay communities,
broader LGBTQ communities, health service
organizations, and society. To confront stigma
in a meaningful way, we must address the
challenges that Hispanic/Latino men living
with HIV face every day.
The interconnectedness of race, gender,
and socioeconomic status is something we
all should be conscious of if we are to impact
the health outcomes of communities most
in need and affected by the consequences
of the economic and social conditions and
generations of distrust towards a segmented
http://WWW.AAHIVM.ORG

HIV Specialist - June 2021

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