HIV and the Church

Part One:  HIV&AIDS, A Heartbreaking Challenge for Our Hispanic Community

Together, we are celebrating the 35th Anniversary of Latino/Latina Hispanic Heritage Month, September 15 – October 15, 2012, a fiesta for all Americans to express appreciation for Latino/Latina contributions and culture.  Many of my friends and fellow-worshippers are Hispanic and say with broad, mischievous smiles, “Bill.  There are two kinds of people in the world, Hispanics and ‘Wannabe Hispanics’.”

The beauty of the Hispanic culture in the United States is that Latinos and Latinas come from many backgrounds, Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Dominican, Central and South American, a diverse people group whose common heritage emphasizes family, friends and faith.

As I deepen relationships with my Hispanic “familia,” I am made more aware of the heartbreaking and devastating effect that HIV&AIDS is having in the Latino/Latina community:

    •  Hispanic Americans account for 20% of all HIV infection cases in 2010.

    •  Hispanic males are 3 times as likely to have AIDS as compared to White males.

    •  Hispanic females are almost 5 times as likely to have AIDS in 2009 as White females.

    •  Hispanic men are 2.3 times as likely as non-Hispanic White men to die of HIV/AIDS.

    •  Hispanic women are 3.4 times as likely as non-Hispanic White women to die of HIV/AIDS.

    •  In 2010, Hispanic females were 4.4 times more likely to be diagnosed with HIV infection, as compared to    White females. 

(Source:, U.S. Department of Health. Office of Minority Health)

The greatest hope for the Hispanic community is found in “tradición,” the long-established Hispanic traditions of family, friends and faith, which are powerful deterrents to becoming infected with HIV&AIDS.

So, over the next few days, let me humbly pass on a few words of encouragement from this pastor’s heart to my Latino brothers and Latina sisters on celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month and defeating HIV&AIDS with three crucial truths:

1.  Continue to keep your “familia” strong.

2.  Choose your influential friends wisely.

3.  Follow the encouragements of your faith.

NEXT TIME: Continue to Keep Your “Familia” Strong.

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