‘Latinx’ community urged to get tested for HIV despite immigration status


EL PASO, Texas — Immigration policies might cause members of the “Latinx” community to put off HIV testing, advocates say.

Almost 4,400 new cases were newly diagnosed in Texas in 2017. Of those, 133 were in El Paso, which represents a 30% rate increase.

And it’s cause for concern for the City of El Paso Department of Public Health.

“We have seen about a 30 percent increase in cases in El Paso, and while we are glad that more people are being tested, we are continuing our efforts to help end this epidemic,” said Irene Ovalle, HIV Prevention Program manager.

In recognition of National Latinx AIDS Awareness Day (NLAAD), the Health Department will join agencies and organizations to raise awareness about the many barriers and inequalities Latinos face that can lead to HIV infection, late diagnosis or other negative health outcomes.

Some factors include stigma, low access to health care, language barriers in the healthcare system, lack of health insurance and/or appropriate documents, and hesitation to talk about sexual health with medical professionals, family or friends.

“Recent trends in immigration policies have caused many Latinx individuals to put off needed care or seek out testing services because of their immigration status. Many people do not realize that HIV testing services are offered regardless of immigration status or income,” Ovalle said.

The theme for this year’s National Latinx HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is “Living with HIV or not … we’re fighting this together” with a focus on the tools available to address HIV in our communities and the elimination of HIV-related stigma.

Free and confidential rapid HIV Testing will be available Wednesday, Oct. 16 at the HIV Prevention Program, 701 Montana Ave.

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