This past Sunday, July 22, was the Latino Caribbean Diaspora Collective’s (LCDC) Latino/Hispanic HIV Community Research Forum: Creando Una Red Para Un Futuro Sin VIH/SIDA, a satellite meeting leading up to the opening of the 19th International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012) in Washington, D.C. The Forum was made possible by the Office of AIDS Research’s Hispanic Advisory Group.
The key objective of the Forum was to engage in Latino-centered dialogue on the impact of HIV and AIDS in our communities and was facilitated by the gathering of an impressive array of panelists and attendees including prominent scientists, clinicians, care providers, HIV+ citizens, as well as other stakeholders from across the nation. Through panel presentations and roundtable discussions, the Forum provided attendees with cutting-edge scientific information to address the unique factors that make Latinos vulnerable to HIV.
Panelists presented comprehensive analyses on a range of topics, from the disproportionate impact HIV/AIDS continues to have on the Latino community, to the multidimensionality of stigma for Latinos who are gender non-conforming, to community-specific concerns such as “caballerismo” and “familismo,” which additionally compound the difficulties of the HIV/AIDS epidemic for Latinos.
Ultimately, the Forum served to strengthen, energize and expand the strong network of HIV/AIDS researchers, service providers and stakeholders working to address the epidemic among Latinos. While much of the Forum’s discussion related to issues particular to the Latino community, the event concluded with a reminder that we are all in this struggle together, and that all affected communities and individuals must work together to effectively curtail this disease. The renewed excitement and engagement resulting from this Forum will serve as an important impetus for change heading into the sure-to-be historic AIDS 2012 Conference.
Matt Zofchak is a Legislative & Public Affairs Intern at NMAC