NYC Launches First HIV Awareness Campaign Completely in Spanish

“¡Listos!” is the Department of Health’s first awareness campaign completely in Spanish aimed at raising awareness about HIV/AIDS. (Photo courtesy of the NYC Health Department)

On Wednesday, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), in association with the Latino Commission on AIDS (LCOA), launched the “¡Listos!” campaign, the first ever directed exclusively at Latinos in the Big Apple encouraging sexually active people to consider using pre-exposure prophylaxys (PrEP) as part of their sexual health plan.

A spokesperson for the DOHMH told El Diario exclusively that the campaign’s official announcement would take place at the headquarters of an organization associated with LCOA.

PrEP is a safe daily pill that greatly reduces the risk of HIV infection. In 2016, only 16 percent of all sexually active Latinos in New York City knew about the drug.

In addition, Latinos are also less likely to take PrEP than whites. For that reason the department launched ¡Listos!, the first awareness campaign completely conceived in Spanish.

In a press release, the department said that the campaign also seeks to dispel myths regarding the safety, effectiveness and availability of PrEP so that all New Yorkers, regardless of their income or immigration status, are aware of the HIV prevention options within their reach.

In March, the DOHMH launched the “Living Sure” campaign to inform women, including trans women, of the use of PrEp as an HIV prevention tool.

“Members of the Latino community, as well as other communities of color, are not aware of the benefits and importance of PrEP usage,” said Health Commissioner Mary T. Bassett. “This new and innovative campaign will inform Latinos about PrEP.”

For his part, Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, deputy commissioner for the Health Department’s Division of Disease Control, said that, with the ¡Listos! campaign, “we continue to redefine sex-positive strategies to increase PrEP utilization in all communities, which can benefit regardless of primary language, immigration status, or ability to pay.  Linguistic and culturally responsive campaigns and programming, such as this one, continue to be necessary to achieve our goal of ending the HIV epidemic by 2020.”

Latinos are the most affected

In general, Latinos in New York City represented more than a third of new HIV cases in 2016. Even though the number of new HIV diagnoses among Hispanics has decreased more than 25 percent between 2012 and 2016, HIV continues to be a serious health issue affecting Hispanic communities disproportionately.

In 2016, the HIV diagnosis rate among Latino men was two times higher than the rate among white men. Among Latina women, it was over five times higher than among white women. The disparities are even more severe for transgender Latinas: Forty-nine percent of transgender women newly diagnosed with HIV between 2012 and 2016 belonged to that group.

“We are honored to be part of the ¡Listos! campaign, the first of its kind by the New York City Health Department,” said Guillermo Chacón, president of the Latino Commission on AIDS (LCOA) and founder of the Hispanic Health Network.

 To obtain PrEP, New Yorkers may talk to their healthcare provider, call 311 or visit the NYC Health Map.

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