June 3-5 2020 Virtual Training

Reunion Latina

Addressing HIV, Hepatitis and STI in the Community

Advancing Public Health in the times of COVID-19

Reunion Latina is a three-day virtual training institute that aims to improve the health of Latinos and minorities,
and bring together Latino and Latino-serving organizations on drafting solutions to health challenges.

Reunion Latina 2020
About Reunion Latina

The Latino Commission on AIDS has hosted Reunion Latina since 1996 and has provided a space for providers and stakeholders to discuss ways to improve services, share strategies on how to overcome health challenges, unify our efforts to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic, address viral Hepatitis and STIs and craft a common vision to eliminate health disparities in Latino communities.

The three-day virtual training institute featured a combination of panel presentations, workshops and institutes that discussed key Issues in 2020 affecting the health of Latino communities; lessons learned from COVID19 response; mental health and substance abuse; strategies to address HIV, HCV and STI; and implementation of telehealth to reach the community.

This training was suitable for health care providers, nurses, outreach workers, case managers, people living with HIV, community leaders, elected officials, health department representatives and anyone interested in advancing the health conditions of the Latino communities.


Explore the conference program. Download the presentations. Watch the recordings.

Open Plenary
COVID19 Update

David Holtgrave, PhD – Dean, SUNY Empire Innovation Professor, Distinguished Professor School of Public Health, Health Policy, Management and Behavior

Description: Overview of COVID-19 epidemiology, prevention, and treatment.  The session emphasizes what we know about COVID-19 health disparities among communities of color (most especially, Latinx communities). Furthermore, the presentation raises questions for later discussion about what conference participants believe are potentially the most impactful strategies for building health equity as it relates to COVID-19.

Session Summary: Dr. David Holtgrave set the stage and the conversation at Reunion Latina 2020 previous to the opening plenary, summarizing the data around the impact of COVID-19 in Hispanic/Latinx and African-American communities and the health inequities faced by communities of color. He also spoke about the prevention, treatment and care of COVID-19.

Download Presentation | Watch Recording

Welcome and Intros:
Guillermo Chacón – President, Latino Commission on AIDS
Bethsy Morales-Reid – Senior Director for Health Initiatives, Hispanic Federation
Johanne Morne, MS – Director of New York State Department of Health, AIDS Institute
Harold Phillips, MRP – Senior HIV Advisor and Chief Operating Officer of Ending the HIV Epidemic by 2030: A Plan for America
Iván Meléndez-Rivera, MD, FAAFP, AAHIVS – Chief Medical and Operating Officer, Centro Ararat

Description:Speakers share their perspective on key issues in 2020 affecting the Hispanic/Latinx communities. This includes HIV, HCV, STIs and a discussion on the recent COVID-19 pandemic and how the impact continues to raise issues about health disparities among people of color.

Session Summary:Guillermo Chacon and Bethsy Morales gave Reunion Latina participants the welcome to the event and introduced our panelists. They reminded us of the national unrest due to institutional racism, police brutality and murders of many Black/African Americans, specially George Floyd. This Training Institute is taking place as we are dealing with COVID-19 pandemic we also have to continued our work on other epidemics in our communities. Bethsy Morales reminded us of the importance of participating in Census 2020 to ensure that our communities receive the health services needed.
Johanne Morne honored the memory of George Floyd as she reminded us of the impact of structural and institutional racism, stigma, discrimination on the health outcomes as it concerns COVID-19 and HIV. "The impact that COVID-19. HIV and STIs are a direct consequence of poverty, challenges on accessing health care, in addition to the structural challenges faced by our race/ethnicity make up of our nation."
Mr. Harold Phillips spoke about the resiliency of communities and communities of color impacted by HIV and health disparities. He framed his presentation around the health inequities and social determinants of health through different case studies based on his own experience. "Our system needs to do better, where the system is not working for Hispanic/Latinx communities. We've had success stories and we need to build upon them." He walked us through the Plan to End HIV in America by 2030 as it related to the case studies he started with. "We need everyone to be involved including a variety of health partners, the faith-based communities and HIV service organizations.”
Dr. Ivan Melendez-Rios acknowledged the difficult and complicated times. Perhaps the most important is the essential call for justice and responsible compassionate leadership. "Today our Hispanic/Latino communities are being highly impacted by health inequalities as we see, when we compare the social determinants as compared to other communities." He reminded is of the vulnerable communities impacted by HIV and other chronic conditions throughout Puerto Rico and the U.S. "We know our needs and we are ready to place forth and share that experience"--stated Dr. Melendez-Rios. The Hispanic/Latinx communities come from a diversity of places and experiences with a will, skills, and commitment.

Johanne Morne's Presentation | Harold Phillips's Presentation | Watch Recording

Educational Workshop session I:
A. State of health in Hispanic/Latinx communities
B. Lessons learned from COVID19 response


Leandro Mena, MD, MPH – Professor, University of Mississippi Medical Center
Vincent Guilamo-Ramos PhD, MPH, LCSW, ANP-BC, AAHIVS – Professor and Associate Vice Provost Director, CLAFH Center for Latino Adolescent and Family Health, New York University

Description:Join Dr. Leandro Mena and Vincent Guilamo-Ramos in a presentation about the state of health in the Hispanic/Latinx Communities focused on HIV/Hep C and STIs as it impacts vulnerable populations within these communities.

Session Summary: Dr. Vincent Guilamo-Ramos presented from the Hispanic/Latinx perspective on the drivers responsible for the overlapping HIV, STIs, HCV and COVID-19 health crisis. He summarized the national data and the high rates of disparities in the context of these conditions. He used the Bronx as a case study for the overlapping health crisis where one in two residents are Latino, with key social welfare issues and health outcomes in the Bronx that give light to the overlapping epidemic health crisis as it relates to HIV, HCV, STIs and COVID-19. He provided lessons learned and recommendations.
Dr. Leandro Mena presented on the same topic centered in the South. He summarized the HIV data in the south, with African-American and Hispanic/Latinx MSM being the most impacted communities. He spoke about the disparities and the high impact of stigma on how Hispanic/Latinx communities are affected across diagnosis, access to health care, and prevention.

Download Presentation | Watch Recording



Jessica Bloome, MD, MPH – Deputy Director of the SFDPH HIV Prevention CBA program and Assistant Professor of Medicine at UCSF
Demetre Daskalakis, MD, MPH – Deputy Commissioner, Division of Disease Control, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

Description:Two cities, one pandemic. In this presentation Dr. Bloome and Dr. Daskalakis share their lessons learned from COVID-19 response in San Francisco and New York City respectively.

Session Summary: Dr. Jessica Bloome, addressed the impact of COVID19 in the city of San Francisco and the lessons they have learned from their own response to this pandemic, making an important remark on how COVID 19 has revealed the historical and ongoing legacy of structural racism and inequalities that makes minority communities more susceptible to get infected and to need hospitalization in the Bay Area. “The Latinx community is disproportionally affected by active COVID 19 infection, 89% of hospitalized cases and almost 48% of cases happen among Latinx pointing to a need to address the Social Determinants of health.”
Dr. Daskalakis, presented COVID 19 data from NYC and stated “COVID has not taught us a new lesson. COVID has taught us a lesson that every infection that we deal with in NYC has taught us, including HIV, which is that infections capitalize on stigma, racism, the history of medical abuses and the immigration climate that creates mistrust. It is a tale of two cities, people of color, low income people and people living in high poverty, neighborhoods disproportionally share COVID19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths.” “The map of COVID19 in NYC is the same map of poverty, the same map of HIV and other infections in NYC, where African American and Hispanics share the disproportionate impact of COVID 19 in our city.”

Dr. Jessica Bloome's Presentation | Dr. Demetre Daskalakis's Presentation | Watch Recording


Dennis O. Romero, MA – Regional Administrator, Office of the Assistant Secretary (OAS), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) - DHHS Region II
Monique Tula – Executive Director, Harm Reduction Coalition

Description:People with substance use disorders often have long histories of unmitigated mental illness and trauma. With very little access to the same treatment and support than their white counterparts. Black and brown people with substance use disorders are especially vulnerable to cycling in and out of correctional facilities and emergency rooms. This presentation briefly describes why harm reduction is an effective modality of engaging with people with substance use disorders that has the potential to restore hope, personal autonomy, and healing.

Session Summary: Mr. Dennis Romero mentioned the impact that COVID-19 and the civil unrest is having on Mental Health and Substance Use. He presented snapshots of the COVID-19 pandemic and he discussed the need to play close attention to the mental health issues but also the reaction to this pandemic such as suicide and overdose, grief and loss, staff fatigue, moral injury to providers, PTSD and isolation/loneliness. He mentioned how important it was to consider behavioral health providers as essential workers.
Ms. Monique Tula began her conversation around the need to heal the harms caused by racialized drug policies and the hold that the criminal justice system and prisons have on black and brown people creating conditions for vulnerable populations to live marginalized. COVID-19 has exposed the structural issues and exposed the impact on already marginalized lives. Harm Reduction allows to restore hope and healing on many of these marginalized communities. “We are suffering from collective trauma, that happens over generations and across communities like war, genocide, slavery, and epidemics like HIV and now COVID.”

Dennis Romero's Presentation | Monique Tula's Presentation Watch Recording



Robert Contreras, MBA – President & CEO Bienestar Human Services
Bamby Salcedo, MA – CEO and Founder, TransLatin@ Coalition
José Joaquín Mulinelli – Executive Director, Coai, Inc.
Judith Montenegro – Program Director, Latinos in the South, Latino Commission on AIDS

Description: COVID-19 has created additional challenges around barriers to care, economic survival, anxieties and fears for Hispanic and Latinx communities. In this presentation four community leaders, representing different regions from the United States and Puerto Rico, share their perspective and strategies on how to address HIV, HCV and STIs during and after COVID19 from direct services to policies and advocacy efforts.

Session Summary: Robert Contreras mentioned that in Los Angeles, COVID 19 has brought to the forefront some social deficiencies that Hispanic/Latinx and African-American communities face that make this population marginalized, vulnerable to poor health outcomes, discrimination, racism and subject to the lack of economic and social justice.
Bamby Salcedo, stated that has been necessary to adapt to this new situation and to maintain our doors open, even if only to be able to provide hot meals, alternating our staff. Since the pandemic started the calls to our organization have increased up 500%. We had to reach out to different foundations to invest in trans lives. COVID 19 is the perfect example why trans people need specific services.
José Joaquín Mulinelli mentioned that in Puerto Rico there are some structural challenges and limitations with the breakdown of COVID19 data about sexual orientation and gender identity, among other variables, and inconsistency of testing in the island by the Puerto Rico Department of Health. It has been a challenge to continue with the Ending the Epidemic plans while dealing with this global pandemic.
Judith Montenegro stated how important it is to know that the south, for many states almost a third of the population lives outside of urban areas which creates more challenges as we face the COVID-19 pandemic. Access to health care in the south has been limited because of the lack of Medicaid expansion, leading to hospital closure in rural areas, and consequently an increase of number of COVID19 infections. Telemedicine and telehealth are necessary in rural communities, and COVID 19 has catapulted its acceleration.

José Mulinelli's Presentation | Judith Montenegro's Presentation | Watch Recording

Educational Workshops:
A. Telehealth: embracing as community-based providers a new space, challenges and opportunities
B. Working from home: new realities and new technologies


Billy Sample – Telehealth Resource Center Program Manager, Medical Advocacy and Outreach

Description:After completing this workshop, the participants will be able to understand telehealth, and the four most common telehealth strategies. Participants will also be able to understand the four most common barriers to telehealth and ways to overcome them.

Session Summary: Mr. Sample spoke about what Telehealth is and the four most common models that exist. He also mentioned how important it is to consider client’s perspectives and concerns. Telehealth is another tool in our arsenal, but not necessarily meant to replace all face-to-face interactions in the future.

Download Presentation | Watch Recording



Bolivar Nieto, MA – Director, CBA Operations, Hands United, Latino Commission on AIDS
Daniel Casillas-Villamizar – CBA Manager, Hands United, Latino Commission on AIDS

Description:During this interactive web-based session, we will explore the advantages and challenges of working off-site/remotely; review some best-practices and share what we have learned during these past months: the good, the not so good, and the funny; and explore our own strategies to further balance our remote work and well-being.

Session Summary: Interactive session with a video and audience polls throughout presented by Daniel Casillas and Bolivar Nieto from Hands United/Manos Unidas, capacity building program at the Latino Commission on AIDS. They spoke about the need to adapt to competing priorities, rethinking communication, how to strengthen team dynamics, presuming versus assuming, self-management, maintaining focus, and many other tools.

Download Presentation | Watch Recording

Guillermo Chacón – President,Latino Commission on AIDS

Description:Closing of Reunion Latina 2020 with a message from Latino Commission’s President.

Session Summary: Guillermo Chacon put in perspective the current COVID-19 pandemic and the social unrest happening across the nation. He spoke about recharging our batteries to work and bring together communities to confront the health issues that impact our communities, and the current social turmoil around racist actions and police brutality. He encourage an active support for Black/African-American communities who are suffering a large brunt of violence and institutional racism in our nation. Likewise, he reminded the audience to participate in the census 2020 and the presidential elections this coming November 3, 2020, so everybody’s voices are counted thus allowing services to reach our communities.

Census FAQ's (English) | Census FAQ's (Spanish)


Meet some of the healthcare champions

Jessica Bloome

Dr. Jessica Bloome, MD, MPH

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Deputy Director for the CDC-funded CBA program for High-Impact HIV Prevention based in the San Francisco Department of Public Health Center for Learning & Innovation. She is also Assistant Professor of Medicine at UCSF.

Daniel Casillas-Villamizar

Daniel Casillas-Villamizar

Latino Commission on AIDS

He is a Capacity Building Assistance Manager with the Latino Commission on AIDS (LCOA). Mr. Casillas-Villamizar provides CBA services in the Southern region and is based in Dallas.

Guillermo Chacon

Guillermo Chacon

Latino Commission on AIDS

President of the Commission, he has been a vocal advocate on the impact of HIV, viral hepatitis, sexually transmitted infections, and other chronic conditions in Hispanic/Latinx communities.

Robert Contreras

Robert Contreras, MBA


He has worked for Bienestar Human Services (BIENESTAR) since 1991. He currently serves as the President and Chief Executive Officer.

Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, MD, MPH

Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, MD, MPH

NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

He is the Deputy Commissioner for the Division of Disease Control at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Justin Toro

Vincent Guilamo-Ramos, PhD, MPH, LCSW, ANP-BC

New York University

He is a Professor at the Silver School of Social Work, New York University and Director of the Center for Latino Adolescent and Family Health.

David Holtgrave, PhD

David Holtgrave, PhD

NYS AIDS Institute

He has served as the Dean of the School of Public Health, University at Albany, State University of New York since March, 2018.

Ivan Melendez-Rivera, MD, FAAFP, AAHIVS

Ivan Melendez-Rivera, MD, FAAFP, AAHIVS

Centro Ararat

He is the founder of Centro Ararat, a non-profit private multidisciplinary healthcare center. Today, he acts as CMO/COO of this HIV/AIDS clinic.

Leandro Mena, MD, MPH

Leandro Mena, MD, MPH

University of Mississippi

He is a clinician-researcher and public health advocate with expertise in the prevention and clinical management of STDs and HIV and STD/HIV prevention research.

Judith Montenegro

Judith Montenegro

Latino Commission on AIDS

She is the Program Director for Latinos in the South, a program of the Latino Commission on AIDS. Judith is a community organizer at heart and has worked on immigration reform. 

Bethsy Morales-Reid

Bethsy Morales-Reid

Hispanic Federation

She is the Senior Director for Health Initiatives. She also leads the Latinos Unidos Contra el SIDA (LUCES) advocacy coalition.

Johanne E. Morne, MS

Johanne E. Morne, MS

New York State Department of Health

She currently serves as Director of the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) AIDS Institute.  Ms. Morne has been with the AIDS Institute for more than 12 years.

José Joaquín Mulinelli Rodriguez

José J. Mulinelli Rodriguez

Coai, Inc.

He is the Executive Director of Coai, Inc. in Puerto Rico. Since 1989, he began volunteering and working in several LGBTQI organizations.He has also served as a co-host for radio program Saliendo del Closet.

Bolivar Nieto, MA

Bolivar Nieto, MA

Latino Commission on AIDS

He is the Director of Operations for Hands United, the technical assistance (TA) program at the Commission . Bolivar has more than 15 years of experience providing national, regional, and local TA.

Harold J. Phillips, MRP

Harold J. Phillips, MRP

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

He is the Senior HIV Advisor and Chief Operating Officer of Ending the HIV Epidemic by 2030: A Plan for America; Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy, Office of Assistant Secretary for Health at the DHHS. .

Dennis O. Romero, M.A.

Dennis O. Romero, M.A.

U. S. Department of Health and Human Services

He is the first Regional Administrator, DHHS Region II for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), a division of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

Bamby Salcedo, M.A.

Bamby Salcedo, M.A.

TransLatin@ Coalition

A recognized transgender Latina Woman, she is the President and CEO of the TransLatin@ Coalition, a national organization that focuses on addressing the issues of transgender Latin@s in the U.S.

Billy Sample

Billy Sample

Medical Advocacy and Outreach

He is the Telehealth Resource Center Program Manager for the past last 8 years, maintaining the technology infrastructure for the agency, while developing and expanding their Telehealth Network.

Monique Tula

Monique Tula

Harm Reduction Coalition

She is the Executive Director of Harm Reduction Coalition. Previously, she was the Vice President of Programs with AIDS United.


Watch all the sessions at your own convenience
















What attendees have to say about Reunion Latina

I learned stategies in how HIV can be taught inside of communities of faith, no just in health centers. I learned that we Latinas are disproportionately impacted by HIV.
Alicia Vasquez Peer Educator
All workshops are facilitated in a friendly, safe and confidential environment. I feel connected with the information I receive and I value the expertise of the presenters.
Oscar Rodolfo Alas Volunteer
Reunion Latina has provided a forum to expose the challenges and needs of transgender individuals; an opportunity to communicate their quest for acceptance, validation and presence.
Michele Sosa Activist


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Bienestar Human ServicesCentro AraratCLAFH Center for Latino Adolescent and Family Health, New York UniversityCoai, Inc.Hands United/Manos UnidasHarm Reduction CoalitionHispanic FederationHonor 41Hudson River Health CareLatino Religious Leadership ProgramLatinos in the SouthMedical Outreach and AdvocacyOasis, Latino LGBTQIA+ Wellness CenterSubstance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) - DHHS Region IITransGrediendoTransLatin@ CoalitionTransLatina NetworkUniversity of Albany School of Public HealthUniversity of California San Francisco, Capacity Building Assistance, Division of Prevention ScienceUniversity of Mississippi Medical Center