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For Release:
October 18, 2005

Fred M. Jacobs, M.D., J.D.

For Further Information Contact:
Nathan Rudy

DHSS Announces Innovative Grant Program to Improve HIV/AIDS Outreach in Latino Communities


NEWARK -- The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) announced today an innovative new grant program intended to increase outreach to Latinos who are at high-risk for HIV infection.  The $600,000 in grants are being issued to six agencies serving Latino communities to hire outreach workers called Promotores to encourage high risk individuals to get tested for HIV.


"The first step to preventing the continued disproportionate spread of AIDS in the Latino community to ensure each individual knows their HIV status," said DHSS Commissioner Fred M. Jacobs, M.D., J.D. at a press conference at grant recipient El Club del Barrio in Newark.  "These grants will work to encourage Latinos particularly at risk for AIDS to get tested and receive counseling and care if they are HIV-positive."


The six agencies receiving $100,000 grants are: El Club del Barrio; Horizon Health in Jersey City; PROCEED in Elizabeth; the Hispanic Family Center in Camden; the Spanish Community Center in Atlantic City; and the City of Trenton. 


Each grant will be used to hire bi-lingual part-time community health workers called Promotores, or promoters.  These professionals are trained to do intensive outreach, and will work during evening and weekend hours in neighborhood locations such as houses of faith, malls and other community locations to identify people at risk who have not yet learned their HIV status.


The Promotores will then act as advocates, helping individuals find a clinic providing the Rapid HIV test, navigate the health care system, ensure medications are purchased and taken, and provide information on safer sex and healthier lifestyles.


With these Promotores in the neighborhood who speaks Spanish, high-risk individuals may be more likely to listen to a prevention message, get tested and begin reducing at-risk behaviors.  As a result they will be able to take actions necessary to living longer, healthier lives and not transmit the disease to others. 


The grants are part of the Latino IMPACT Initiative, a major project of the DHSS Division of HIV/AIDS Services in cooperation with community organizations to address the disproportionate rate of HIV/AIDS in New Jersey's cities with the highest Latino infection rate.  Commissioner Jacobs' announcement was made in conjunction with Acting Governor Richard J. Codey's proclamation naming Saturday, October 15 as National Latino AIDS Awareness Day in New Jersey.


Latinos are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS in New Jersey, accounting for just 14 percent of the state's population yet 20 percent of all new HIV infections.  As a result, one in every 185 Latinos is infected with HIV.  Eighteen percent of women living with HIV in New Jersey are Latina, and 63 percent of those infections are the result of heterosexual contacts.


Earlier this year, the DHSS began a campaign to increase awareness of Rapid HIV tests among African American and Latina women, two populations who are disproportionately affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic.  The $2 million campaign, called "The 20 Minute Test," is part of a concerted effort by Governor Codey and the DHSS to increase the number of people who know their HIV status and reduce the transmission of HIV in New Jersey.








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