Archive for the ‘HIV/AIDs’ Category

Catholics for Choice and the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health are proud to announce the launch of the first-ever Condoms4Life radio ads. The two Spanish-language ads take on myths about condom use in Catholic and Latino communities and highlight the importance of condom use and that Good Catholics Use Condoms. The radio campaign will launch in New York City on December 1, 2008 and will roll-out nationwide in 2009.


Using the core message that “Good Catholics Use Condoms,” the campaign presents a positive message to sexually active Catholics about responsibility and caring for others. The ads appeal to people of faith with one of the 60-second spots noting that: “I’m Catholic and there is nothing more important to me than protecting family and love. That’s why I talked to my grandson about condoms.” The ads remind people of faith that taking care of yourself and caring for each other means using condoms when you are sexually active.


The first ad features a grandmother speaking about her grandson, a gay man, who hears that Catholics are not supposed to use condoms. She tells her grandson, “I took care of you because I love you and if you love that man, you’ll take care of him, too.”


The second ad features a couple and models language that couples can use when discussing the importance of love, faith and condom use in their relationship. The ad concludes, “We are Catholics and people of faith and we know sex is sacred and that we need to take care of each other. And this means using a condom every time we have sex.”


“National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health is excited to work with Catholics for Choice on this groundbreaking campaign.  We hope to de-stigmatize conversations about sex and sexuality and promote the use of condoms within our communities in order to reduce health disparities.  Latinos represent almost 20% of new HIV infections in the United States, and Latina women get HIV at an rate that is four times the rate for white women,” said Silvia Henriquez, Executive Director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health. “Using condoms is one of the many ways that we can be proactive and make smart decisions about our sexual health.”


“At Catholics for Choice we recognize the special challenges Latino communities experience. Largely because our religion has not always been honest about sex, there exists an embarrassed silence around condom use—it is time for our communities to break the silence and proclaim, as these ads do, that good Catholics use condoms,” said Jon O’Brien, president of Catholics for Choice.


Visit Condoms4Life to listen to the ads and for more information.

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On Wednesday, President Bush reauthorized the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).  It will distribute $48 billion in funds to provide treatment and care globally through 2013.  Many are praising this reauthorization as an important step in alleviating the pandemic but some have criticized the Bush administration for not focusing efforts on domestic HIV/AIDS.


In the United States, approximately 1.2 million are living with the disease and people of color and women are disproportionately affected.  While Latin@s make up 14% of the national population, they accounted for 22% of new HIV/AIDS diagnoses, according to the Washington Post.  Specifically, Latinas are adversely affected; the AIDS case rate for Latinas is 5 times higher than the rate for white women, according to Kaiser.


Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) issued a statement expressing disappointment with the lack of domestic attention.  Though her comments were directed toward the high infection rates among African-Americans, these concerns are true for all communities of color. These marginalized populations often lack the resources to prevent contracting the disease or to access care to maintain healthy lives.  The Post article points to language difficulties, cultural barriers and fear of deportation among the Latino community as drivers in increasingly disproportionate rates.


Next week, the XVII International AIDS Conference will take place in Mexico City.  Leaders and activists will come together to discuss the epidemic and challenges in responding to it.  Around the world, 33 million people are currently living with HIV/AIDS and the overwhelming majority of those infected live in the developing world.


For more coverage of the International AIDS Conference, check out:

  •  www.aids2008.com – launched by the Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP) to allow bloggers, journalists and activists to report about various conference events
  • Kaiser Network – official webcaster of the conference and will provide live webcasts each day

Contributed by Yodit Beru

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An article today in the New York Times reports on the dwindling funds available through the Ryan White program, which has provided not only much-needed medical services to low-income people with HIV, but also non-medical services such as shelter, food and transportation.  Though congress expanded the program’s eligible regions, funding did not increase.  The result is a financial cut that has many organizations making tough choices – Jennifer Kates, director of HIV policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation explains:

If we have someone in South Carolina not getting medicines and someone in San Francisco not getting housing, how do we choose?

The article goes on to report that Republicans support providing medical services only and cutting back on other services since medical care is the “main need.”  This is an extremely myopic analysis of the situation at hand, ignoring basic human rights such as the right to safe shelter.  Even in the strictest medical sense, it doesn’t take a lot of sophisticated analysis to figure out that it might be difficult to manage a complex drug regimen if you don’t have any housing, or that it makes it a lot harder to get to that doctor’s appointment if you don’t have the money for transportation.  And with the highest climbs in the rates of HIV infection currently being seen in low-income people and women of color, it’s not hard to figure out who has been hit the hardest by these cuts. 

-Verónica Bayetti Flores

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Interesting article in the New York Times today about the HIV risk faced by Mexican migrant workers. What this article forgets to mention, however, is that many of the men who come to the U.S. seasonally from rural Mexico do so because their own corn or livestock farms have become unprofitable since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which was passed in the Clinton years and created a free-trade zone between Canada, the United States and Mexico. 

Today Mexico gets most of its corn and pork, for example, from cheaper factory-farm and government-subsidized sources in the United States, leading to the decline of agriculture and related work possibilities in rural Mexico and therefore (in an ironic twist for the often anti-immigrant conservatives who support NAFTA) an increase in seasonal migrant labor. 

HIV risk is furthered in younger couples by a more modern companionate marriage ideal in rural Mexico, in which marriage is about fidelity and companionship and not necessarily a contract of male superiority.  In the context of a supposedly monogamous, loving relationship, condom negotiation is not simply a matter of machista refusal to use protection or lack of empowerment in rural Mexican women (as the article might have you believe), but rather it means acknowledging the possibility of infidelity, something both men and women are reluctant to do.  A very interesting and complex situation that shows us the real, on-the-ground consequences of the free-trade policies the United States continues to champion. 

Stories like these reinforce the links between immigration and reproductive justice. For more information on these connections, check out our fact sheet.

Contributed by Veronica Bayetti

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