Recognizing the alarming surge in HIV cases in North Carolina, El Centro Hispano is extending an invitation to all non-profit organizations and media outlets interested in participating in the “It is better to Know” initiative. This campaign aims to raise awareness about the critical importance of knowing one’s HIV status and encourages everyone to take the test.
In the 2023 calendar year alone, El Centro Hispano, in collaboration with agencies like Wake County Government Department of Health and Human Services, Durham County Department of Human Health, Alliance of AIDS Services, and the support of Crape Myrtle Festival and Laughing Gull Foundation, organized four HIV testing events through their LGBTQ+ program, resulting in 58 HIV/STD tests performed. Tests returned a positivity rate of nearly 20%.
The most recent North Carolina HIV/STD Surveillance Report discloses that, in the first quarter of 2023, there were 368 cases of HIV/STD statewide, reflecting a 10.3% increase compared to the same period in 2022. The counties most affected by this surge include Mecklenburg with 84 cases of HIV/STD, Wake with 38, Guildford with 26, Cumberland with 23 and Durham with 17.
In line with our ongoing commitment to public health, we are implementing a targeted and comprehensive response comprising three key elements:
1.- HIV De-stigmatization Campaign “It is better to know”: The goal is to normalize HIV testing and incorporate it into routine healthcare prevention across diverse communities.
2.- Health/HIV Testing: We will start with HIV voluntary testing for El Centro Hispano’s staff members, and passing the baton to other organizations and media outlets eager to join the cause. We will also continue ongoing health events with access to testing at the 440 NightClub in Raleigh, North Carolina and at our offices. HIV testing is completely voluntary and confidential, and the results are protected unless consent is given by the person who was tested.
3.- Vida Positiva (Living Positive) Support Group: As part of our long-term commitment , El Centro Hispano is establishing a support group named “Vida Positiva,” which will provide professional support in Spanish for Latinx individuals living with HIV.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) attacks the body’s immune system, and if left untreated, can lead to Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS). Early detection and access to medical care significantly improve the chances of managing the virus and leading a healthy life. Thanks to advancements in medical science, individuals with HIV can now enjoy long and fulfilling lives.
“A recent study indicates that as the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded, HIV testing decreased by 97 percent across the U.S. Until now, testing numbers stayed down as half, as positivity rates increased; we urge the community to take action”, said Elsa Huerta, LGBTQ+ program coordinator at El Centro Hispano.