By Jorge Cestou, PhD ABD, MBA, Director of Programs and Services
The I Commit to End HIV -a National Latino AIDS Awareness Day in Chicago event facilitated by Vida/SIDA was a success. An intergenerational group including youth, adults, and older adults attended the event. The majority of the audience was of Latino origin but it included African Americans, Caucasians, and South East Asians. Participants included community residents and HIV field practitioners.
Attendees were welcomed through a red carpet in which they were guided to sign the symbolic canvas titled I Commit to End HIV. They were also photographed in red carpet fashion. Sample pictures attached.
Juan Calderon, Chief Operating Officer of the Puerto Rican Cultural Center along with Sanford Gaylord of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Region V, welcomed the audience.
The event included a HIV/AIDS panel discussion titled ‘Factors Affecting the Community, Collaboration, Culture and Agencies’ Services.’ The panelists included Edwin Corbin-Gutierrez (Center on Halsted), Martin Gonzalez-Rojas (CALOR-Anixter), Luis Lira (Project Vida), Carlos Orengo (Howard Brown Health Center), and Maritxa Vidal (Vida/SIDA). Ayla Karamustafa of Public Health Institute of Metropolitan Chicago moderated the panel discussion. The panelists were extremely eloquent and cultural sensitive in presenting data and experiences of their delivery of services to the Latino community in the Chicago metro area.
Participants were given a packet of information that contained facts about HIV/AIDS in the Latino community. The audience was entertained by drag performers Milani Ninja and Jailyn Ninja and enjoyed delicious Latino food and water.
Partner agencies displayed materials and provided safe-sex kits at their tables of information. Agencies delivering these services included Vida/SIDA, CALOR, Lurie Children’s Hospital, and Region V.
The event offered free confidential HIV testing, provided by Vida/SIDA, CALOR, and Lurie Children’s Hospital.