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New ad campaign urges Mexican men to seek HIV testing and care services

October 9, 2014

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“Salud y Orgullo Mexicano” Debuts Citywide on Bus Shelters and Spanish-Language Radio in Advance of National Latino AIDS Awareness Day

In advance of National Latino AIDS Awareness Day (Oct. 15), the AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC) has launched “Salud y Orgullo Mexicano,” a citywide project designed to encourage Mexican men to connect to HIV testing and care services.

SOM 1Salud y Orgullo Mexicano (SOM), which means “Mexican health and pride,” aims to remove barriers to HIV testing and care for people of Mexican descent, the largest subset of the Latino population in Chicago. The project works to connect Mexican men to services at Erie Family Health Center in Humboldt Park (2750 West North Avenue), home of the Lending Hands for Life program which offers a range of services from HIV testing and medical care to emotional support.

Latinos are disproportionately affected by HIV; they make up 16 percent of the U.S. population, but account for 21 percent of new HIV infections.[1] When it comes to HIV testing, Latinos face three major obstacles: lack of access to health care, fear of stigma, and low perception of HIV risk. And once they are diagnosed with HIV, barriers to treatment often include lack of health insurance, difficulty navigating the U.S. health care system, and a shortage of culturally competent health care facilities.[2]

“We know that Latinos who recently immigrated to the United States are more likely to be diagnosed late in the course of their HIV infection than those who are more assimilated or were born in the U.S.,” said Roman Buenrostro, Director of Special Projects at AFC. “That’s why it wasn’t enough for our ads to simply be in Spanish; we designed them to resonate culturally with Mexican men to get their attention. We hope they do just that.”

The initiative is one of ten Special Projects of National Significance funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to improve health outcomes among Latinos who are vulnerable to contracting HIV or living with the disease. All of the projects take a “transnational approach,” meaning their health programs are tailored to the specific culture or place of origin of the Latino population they aim to reach.

In Chicago, the SOM project is getting the word out through 50 Spanish-language and bilingual bus shelter ads that put a twist on iconic imagery from the colorful cards used in lotería, a bingo-style game played by Mexican families in their homes since the late 1800s.

In one ad, the lotería card for El Valiente (the Brave One) is reimagined as a man who takes care of his health for his family. Another illustrates the challenge of life with HIV through a mix of cards and declares, “Erie can help you win the game.” There’s even an ad tailored for the gay, bisexual and transgender community with a headline that reads, “no matter what card you hold, all are welcome at Erie.”

The marketing campaign also includes lotería-themed public service announcements on La Que Buena (WOJO 105.1 FM) and La Tremenda (WRTO 1200 AM) that began airing Oct. 1. The PSAs were produced pro bono by Static Studios, a Chicago-based sound design studio.

All of the materials were developed this summer after focus group discussions with Mexican men from different age groups, socioeconomic backgrounds, and sexual orientations. The men shared their experiences navigating the health care system and bridging between the Mexican and American cultures. As a result, each ad has a bold color (to grab attention) and lists key services (to reduce perceived barriers to care): free and confidential HIV testing; easy to schedule appointments; bilingual/bicultural staff; no questions asked about legal status; high-quality HIV care regardless of ability to pay; counseling, psychiatry and support groups; dental and substance abuse treatment; respectful atmosphere.

“Lotería is a game of chance, but we want Mexican men to know that they don’t have to gamble with their health,” said Dr. Gail Patrick, Site Medical Director for Erie. “Finding a regular home for your health needs, like our clinic in Humboldt Park, and coming in even before you feel sick for preventive care will increase your odds of living a long and healthy life.”

The SOM bus shelter ads hit the streets on Sept. 30 and are concentrated in or near community areas with significant Mexican populations: Lower West Side (Pilsen), South Lawndale (Little Village), Humboldt Park, West Town, Avondale, Edgewater, Near West Side, Brighton Park, Gage Park. The ads and radio PSAs will each run for two months.

 

To view the SOM ads below and hear the PSAs, visit: www.aidschicago.org/media/som.

 


 

[1] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. HIV Surveillance Report, 2011; vol. 23, Table 3b. http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/library/reports/surveillance/2011/surveillance_Report_vol_23.html. Published February 2013.

[2] ¿A Dónde Vamos? New Directions for Culturally Relevant Latino Community Involvement in HIV/AIDS Prevention and Services Research. National Council of La Raza, 2011.

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