somos-latinos-salud-opening-0

somos-latinos-salud-opening-0Latinos Making A Difference

Latinos Salud, a non-profit organization for gay Latino men, is having their grand opening event on Saturday, January 22 from 7 to 10 p.m. The event is open to the community and is a great way to find out more about this exciting group.

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somos-latinos-salud-opening-4Latinos Salud, a non-profit organization for gay Latino men, is having their grand opening event on Saturday, January 22 from 7 to 10 p.m. The event is open to the community and is a great way to find out more about this exciting group.

Stephen Fallon and Rafaelé Narváez founded Latinos Salud in 2008 to address the lack of local HIV prevention services that specifically target the Latino gay community of Broward County.

The two were from another agency, which had to close due to fundraising downfalls, executive director Fallon explained, yet the staff was dedicated to keep the program open and to keep people safe.

Latinos Salud officially opened their doors in 2009 and the organization has continued to grow ever since. They were recently given a grant for $1.3 million from the CDC to initiate HIV prevention programs.

“Broward County is Ground Zero in our nation’s HIV epidemic,” said Fallon. “For the health of our communities, we need prevention programs that are delivered by professionals who understand the culture and values of their gay Latino peers. Latinos Salud will launch two new HIV prevention programs to meet this need.”

somos-latinos-salud-opening-2The programs are extremely important based on statistics from the Florida Department of Health, Bureau of HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis within Broward County, which stated that Latinos experienced the highest increase in new HIV infections of any racial or ethnic group, with a 185-percent jump in reported cases over the past six years, almost all of which were among gay and bisexual Latino males.

“We are excited that the CDC chose our agency to carry out these vitally-needed services. For the past six years, no Broward-based agency had won CDC funding. Latinos Salud is the youngest of South Florida agency selected for funding,” Fallon explained.

Latinos Salud created two new HIV-prevention programs- “Somos” and “Juntos.” “Somos” which means “We Are” is for gay Latinos ages 18 to 30. The group gets together to share HIV prevention tips and do fun activities like rollerskating, bowling, movies, dinners, drag contests and participate in parades.

Narváez, Latinos Salud’s Director of Health Programs, explained, “Our ‘Somos’ program has proven that the young, gay Latino community wants to support one another, if they are given the tools they need. The ‘Somos’ program has distributed thousands of condoms, and held dozens of safer sex workshops. Clients have also built community spirit through shared activities like the Stonewall Street Parade, PrideFest, drag contests, outdoor sports, and group meetings to discuss the ups and downs of dating in South Florida.”

somos-latinos-salud-opening-3“Juntos” is for Latinos guys age 44 and under and is a place to meet guys and become a leader and is for those who are trying to stay safe, but are struggling with it. There are counselors available to help out.

“One of our new programs will recruit leaders from peer groups to start a dialogue that can ultimately change community attitudes about HIV and safer sex,” said Fallon. “The other new program will provide intensive one-on-one counseling to clients who are having difficulty curbing ongoing risky behaviors, such as unprotected sex with partners of unknown HIV status.”

Those who are interested can check out their Grand Opening event on Saturday, Jan. 22, which Fallon said will have a lot of Latin flavor to it, but is open to the whole community.

“Everyone is welcome,” he said.

There will be food, beverages and prizes for those who attend. “It will be a fundraising, we well as a fun event,” Fallon said.

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