Latino Commission on AIDS

Mission Statement

The Latino Commission on AIDS is a nonprofit membership organization dedicated to fighting the spread of HIV/AIDS in the Latino community.

In response to the critical, unmet need for HIV prevention and care for Latinos, a coalition of Latino leaders founded the agency in 1990. The Commission realizes its mission by spearheading health advocacy for Latinos, promoting HIV education, developing model prevention programs for high-risk communities, and by building capacity in community organizations. Through its extensive network of member organizations and community leaders, the Commission works to mobilize an effective Latino community response to the health crisis created by HIV/AIDS. Since 1995, the Commission has steadily expanded its services outside New York to meet the emerging needs of Latino communities in more than 40 States and Puerto Rico.

Through its extensive network of member organizations and community leaders, the Commission works to mobilize an effective Latino community response to the health crisis created by HIV/AIDS. For the past 15 years the Commission has been directed by Dennis deLeon, a tireless advocate and national leader of the Latino community struggle to address the epidemic.

The Commission is dedicated to resolving the HIV crisis in the Latino community, where social stigma, poverty, language barriers, immigration status fears, and access to care deter testing and increase the infection rate. Over 200,000 Latinos in the U.S. and Puerto Rico are living with HIV/AIDS. The fastest growing ethnic group in the U.S., Latinos constitute 14% of the U.S. population but account for over 20% of the AIDS cases.

The Commission's public health model encompasses four core and complementary services provided to Latino communities: health education, HIV prevention, capacity building, and advocacy. All services are offered in Spanish by a culturally diverse bilingual staff of health, education and business professionals.

Knowledge of HIV risk and treatment options remains a significant barrier to preventing the spread of the disease among Latinos and helping Latinos with HIV/AIDS to stay healthy. The Commission is strongly committed to ongoing Spanish language health education and strategic media campaigns that educate the general public about HIV treatment and prevention, as well as other health disparities affecting Latino communities. For over a decade the Commission has provided the only Spanish language HIV treatment education available in the U.S. and continues to provide this training to frontline healthcare professionals, peer educators and public health officials. Our training professionals continue providing workshops, institutes and national conferences on many HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention topics to Latino immigrants, community leaders, healthcare workers, and people living with HIV/AIDS.

All programs at the Commission are guided by our mission to prevent disease and promote health in Latino communities. The agency has a long history of developing and implementing model prevention and risk reduction interventions in low-income Latino communities, including the only initiative in the U.S. to mobilize communities of faith for HIV interventions. The Commission has worked with more than 75 churches of many denominations to build ministries of health in high risk communities and to initiate prevention programs for women and adolescents. Another thrust of the prevention program has been working with grassroots lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender organizations to develop and implement innovative prevention interventions. For the past decade, the Commission has reached the wider Latino community with HIV testing, counseling and referrals to healthcare and housing through pioneering programs based on social networking models that reach Latinos at highest risk of HIV.

Finding solutions to the health disparities impacting Latinos can best come from within Latino communities. The Commission has always been committed to building the capacity of local institutions - community organizations, health departments, healthcare providers, churches, and LGBT groups - to provide local disease prevention, healthcare and health education services in Latino communities. In conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and other government agencies, the Commission is strengthening community organizations and health departments from Maine to New Jersey (and Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands) that provide HIV prevention interventions to Latinos. Another ongoing effort has been helping LGBT groups to effectively operate as non-profit organizations offering social support and prevention services in high-risk Latino communities.

The HIV crisis can only be resolved with awareness at every level of society and through organizing communities to advocate for increased resources and access to healthcare. The Commission's hallmark awareness initiative is National Latino AIDS Awareness Day ( Annually on October 15, the Commission mobilizes more than 350 community organizations in over 250 cities across the country to host HIV testing, education and prevention initiatives. Advocacy has long been a core competency of the agency. The Commission is dedicated to mobilizing Latino groups and community leaders, building broad based consensus, and advocating at all levels of government. In addition, advocacy training is provided to grassroots organizations throughout the U.S.

Latino Commission on AIDS ©2009