The White House Office on National AIDS Policy (ONAP) visited California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) last week to learn more about local efforts to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS and allow people to live healthy, productive, disease free lives in Southern California – one of the areas in the United States with high rates of HIV and AIDS.
Latinos, the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population, make up about 40 percent of the city of Long Beach and county of Los Angeles populations. HIV is increasing among Latinos, who often don’t perceive themselves to be at risk. Prevention is the most effective health strategy in terms of economic, human and moral costs. The event was hosted by the CSULB Center for Latino Community Health, Evaluation and Leadership Training.
Among the agencies participating were the Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services, the CSULB Center for Latino Community Health, Evaluation and Leadership Training, the CSULB College of Health and Human Services, University of California, Berkeley, AIDS Education & Training Center, UC Irvine and UCLA.
The Center for Latino Community Health, Evaluation, and Leadership Training develops HIV prevention intervention strategies that are culturally and linguistically relevant, building upon cultural assets, capital and shared community values, providing information for Latino families and individuals and emphasizing family unity.
“We are honored to have hosted ONAP as well as colleagues from our esteemed research university neighbors and colleagues throughout Southern California,” said center director Britt Rios-Ellis. “We are pleased that CSULB and the NCLR/CSULB Center for Latino Community Health was selected to host the visit and was given the opportunity to showcase our work. For more than two decades we have been collaborating with NCLR to ensure that Latinos have access to culturally and linguistically relevant HIV/AIDS prevention information and testing nationwide."
Rios-Ellis also serves national committees on HIV and STD Prevention and Treatment (CHAC), including the President’s Advisory Council, which is dedicated to developing a national strategy to ensure that all HIV positive individuals can disclose their status without fear of stigmatization, legal repercussions or impact on their medical care.
Kurt Organista, professor of social welfare at University of California, Berkeley, also attended to highlight his National Institutes of Health-funded research with day laborers as well as his groundbreaking new book "HIV Prevention with Latinos: Theory Research and Practice," for which Rios-Ellis authored a chapter. Other presenters from CSULB included Dennis Fisher, director of CSULB's Center for Behavioral Research.
Organista noted, “The social, cultural and environmental contexts of disease need to be addressed to make real prevention possible.”