National community planning membership data indicate Latino CPG membership has remained at 10–13% over the last four years. However AIDS prevalence data through June 2000 show that Latinos represent 20% of AIDS cases.
|"Camarón que se duerme se lo lleva la corriente."
Latino involvement in the HIV prevention community planning process is a necessary step towards the development and prioritization of appropriate interventions to stem the tide of HIV/AIDS in Latino communities. With the dramatic rise of the Latino population in the United States, and the disproportionate increase in HIV and AIDS in the Latino community, health departments and CPGs must take a leadership role in ensuring PIR of Latinos and other communities of color. The Latino community must also take responsibility for its own involvement and representation on CPGs. Communities have the ability to make their voices heard beyond their immediate surroundings. Barriers and challenges facing the Latino community that hinder the development of targeted prevention programs can be overcome. Initiatives for PIR, as described in this document, can assist the community in surmounting some of these barriers and challenges.
Some Health Departments and CPGs across the country have implemented innovative strategies to recruit and retain Latino involvement in their community planning processes. These examples include minority networks, membership committees, enhanced recruitment efforts, and regional representation. The data and examples described in this report should serve as a springboard for developing and implementing initiatives in other jurisdictions that need to increase Latino representation. In order for this to occur, the CPGs should take the following actions:
- Communities that lack Latino representation should communicate with CPGs that are fostering Latino participation (networking is crucial for change);
- Become informed about the variety of Technical Assistance and Capacity Building services available to CPGs, especially knowledge of TA providers that specialize in cultural diversity issues to involve/retain Latinos; and
- Raise your voices — CPGs that have made the initial steps in getting Latinos to the planning table and support for the Latino community should share their efforts and disseminate their results. (e.g., conferences, workshop presentations, etc.).
Without Latino representation on CPGs and other planning bodies, the Latino community will continue to be underserved and underrepresented, and will continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS. There is a dicho or saying:
"Camarón que se duerme se lo lleva la corriente."
In the context of HIV prevention community planning, this dicho can be interpreted to mean that if Latinos do not wake up and realize the impact of HIV/AIDS in their community and the importance of their voices, then they will be swept away by the tide of complacency. The message is clear—the Latino community must take an active role in community planning, and that time is now.
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