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The Power of Community in Fighting HIV/AIDS Among Latinos
Date:10/15/2007

WASHINGTON, Oct. 15 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The sense of family in the Latino community is so strong academics have coined a term for it: familismo. But for Latinos, family includes the village, the community at large. Dr. Garth Graham, a physician who heads the Office of Minority Health (OMH) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, thinks that the idea of familismo or la familia primero (family first) is a key factor, together with the community, for helping Latinos in their fight against HIV/AIDS.

(Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20070531/DCTHFNS1 )

"La familia primero conveys a strong sense of family and community commitment that drives a lot of people in the Latino community to take care of themselves and others," he says. "It is a very strong incentive to get people to reduce risky behaviors."

And reducing the risk for HIV is the theme of National Latino HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, an annual observance that serves to educate Latinos about the impact of HIV/AIDS in their communities. NLAAD is held each year on October 15.

OMH offers resources to help Latino families and communities in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Those resources are available at http://www.omhrc.gov/espanol or http://www.AIDS.gov.

Graham has seen firsthand the way family values play out in the lives of Latinos in the United States. As an immigrant from the Caribbean himself, Graham understands the cultural issues and pressures -- and the difficult choices -- that so many Latinos face when it comes to taking care of themselves.

"Back when I was in medical school, I worked in a community health center where we saw a large proportion of African Americans and Latinos who were affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic," Graham says. "I have never forgotten one
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SOURCE Office of Minority Health, U.S. Department of Health andHuman
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