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Binational campaign warns women of HIV threat

October 26, 2001|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — HIV also affects women.

That's the message of a binational promotional campaign designed to warn Latino women of the threat of HIV.

The campaign was launched at a press conference Thursday in the rotunda of Calexico's City Hall.

Human immunodeficiency virus causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, known as AIDS.

For the women of Southern and Baja California, the main source of HIV is sexual contact with an HIV-infected man.

Women who use drugs can acquire the virus if needles and syringes are shared with an HIV-infected person.

The campaign materials exhibited Thursday include TV and radio spots and print advertising copy that explains in English and Spanish the ways women can acquire the virus and how they can avoid doing so.

The spots also include phone numbers for clinics on both sides of the border that offer free testing.

The campaign and testing are funded in part by grants from the California Wellness Foundation and the California Endowment in conjunction with the Imperial County Public Health Department and the binational Border Health Initiative of Project Concern International.


At Thursday's ceremony, county District 2 Supervisor Hank Kuiper said the awareness campaign needs to move forward.

"It's nice to see the cooperation from both countries. The free testing on both sides of the border is just great," he said.

Dr. Andres Nuñez Soria, director of the HIV department at a Mexicali hospital, said, "This is the first time in the history of the region there has been a campaign like this."

He said he hoped the campaign could reach the intended target of Latino women in reproductive age.

"We have a hard job ahead getting our message out while dealing with the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS," Nuñez said.

He said there has been a stigma surrounding the issue since some people think AIDS and HIV is only a disease that affects gay men.

While the majority of people who have died from AIDS over the years have been gay men, the epidemic continues to accelerate in certain segments of the population, notably among women and injection drug users, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Dr. Blanca Lomeli, regional director of the Border Health Initiative, said the campaign will only be the start of a comprehensive effort to help Latino women gain access to better health care, information and drugs.

"It's very important and very necessary," she said.

Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419 or

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