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Binational committee launches awareness program

October 21, 2001|STAFF REPORT

The Imperial/Mexicali Binational HIV/AIDS Committee has launched a program to promote HIV and AIDS awareness among women in Imperial County and Mexicali.

The program, "Women & HIV," is designed to inform women, particularly Hispanic women, that they are as vulnerable to being infected with HIV as anyone, even if they have only one partner.

Women of all ages need to be aware of how HIV can be transmitted, what they need to do to be tested and why testing is important.

Imperial County Public Health Department offers free, confidential testing for HIV. Free testing also is available in Mexicali through Programa Amigo de la Facultad de Medicina de la Universidad Autonoma de Baja California and Iniciativa de Salud Fronteriza.


"The HIV social marketing campaign targeting Latina women in Imperial and Mexicali is important because there has been a recent increase in HIV infections among Latinas," said Arturo Hernández, coordinator of the campaign. "Women need to understand they, too, can be at risk, even if they've had only one partner. Information is the key to prevention, and testing the key to early detection and managing of HIV."

The awareness campaign will focus on women and how HIV can affect heterosexual, monogamous women as much as it affects any group. In fact, statistics show that the number of infected women is growing, particularly the number of infected Latina women.

The Centers for Disease Control reported at the end of 1999 that in the United States more than 24,800 Hispanic women had been infected with AIDS, 18 percent of the total number of women infected.

This amounts to 15 per 100,000 Hispanic women, more than seven times higher than the rate for non-Hispanic white women. In Baja California, the rate of all HIV cases is some 112 per 100,000 population.

And the number is growing. According to the Imperial/Mexicali Binational HIV/AIDS Committee, it is essential to reach women with the information because with early detection of HIV and AIDS, counseling, treatment, and help in preventing further spread of the disease can be offered.

Another aim of the campaign is to remind women, and those who do not already know, that HIV is transmitted by sexual intercourse without protection, by sharing needles with an infected partner and through breast milk from an infected mother.

The awareness program will attempt to spread its message to Imperial County women through bilingual print ads, radio and television, billboards, flyers and posters and through presentations at schools, to sports teams, businesses and non-governmental organizations.

For information and for free, confidential testing in Imperial County, call (760) 482-4HIV. In Mexicali, call (011526) 555-4262 for a free clinic.

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