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New HIV-reduction initiative takes to the fields
Date:11/5/2008

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. Education has found its way onto the soccer fields of North Carolina in the form of a social experiment that may have all the right ingredients to change the direction of Latino health in the United States.

Despite overall advances in medical care and treatment, Latinos with HIV in the United States have higher mortality rates than whites, a medical fact especially significant in North Carolina, which has one of the fastest-growing Latino populations in the country. Whether due to lack of education, cultural views or personal beliefs, information about safer sex and HIV/AIDS isn't reaching the male Latino immigrant audience.

Now, researchers at Wake Forest University School of Medicine are beginning a project they think may be able to reduce the HIV burden being felt by Latino men settling in the Southeast. It involves meeting them on their own fields and utilizing the things they find the most comfort and familiarity in when they find themselves in a new country soccer and other Latino men going through the same experiences.

"Currently in the United States there are no effective HIV prevention interventions designed for immigrant Latino adults," said Scott D. Rhodes, Ph.D., MPH, lead investigator and an associate professor in the Department of Social Sciences and Health Policy who is also affiliated with the Maya Angelou Center for Health Equity. "The CDC has nothing to offer to health educators and practitioners in health departments and community organizations who are charged with reducing HIV across the country. Many immigrant Latinos lack the necessary information and skills to stay safe.

"We are training soccer team leaders as peer leaders to teach their own teammates about HIV and how to prevent it," Rhodes said. "We also are addressing norms and expectations about what it means to be a man. Men in general don't think about their own health, and we are training the peer leaders to talk to t
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Contact: Jessica Guenzel
jguenzel@wfubmc.edu
336-716-3487
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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