Trujillo and Lahoud Have No Doubt
Approximately 13,500 people in Los Angeles County are infected with HIV, but don’t know it. And seventy percent of all infections in Los Angeles County are spread by those who have it and don’t know it. Some have no idea they are at risk. Others are fearful of knowing their status. Many are scared of taking the first step and getting tested.
To encourage more people to take the HIV test, Chivas USA players Mariano Trujillo and Michael Lahoud, along with other community leaders, took the test Friday to show how easy it is. They also talked about why it’s important to be tested and to know your HIV status.
“Our message is simple. Get tested and know your status,” said Richard Zaldivar, executive director of The Wall Las Memorias Project, an AIDS education organization. “Always asking yourself What if I am HIV positive? doesn’t answer the question. Knowing your status removes all doubt. And it helps you move forward.” The live HIV test was timed to coincide with the World Cup matches and the coming HIV Testing Week that runs June 27 through July 3. It kicks off a testing campaign at locations throughout Los Angeles that will run through August and
culminate with the fourth-annual AIDS awareness night at the Home Depot Stadium between Chivas USA and DC United.
“Even if you think you are HIV negative, take the test,” said Mariano Trujillo. “Set an example for your friends and family.”
“I wanted to be tested today because there are so many people who have HIV and don’t know it,” said Michael Lahoud. “People need to know how important this is.” More than one million people are estimated to be living with HIV in the United States. Of those, 200,000 people (one in every five) don't know that they are HIV positive. Closer to home, approximately 60,000 people are estimated to be living with HIV/AIDS in Los Angeles County and 15,000 of them are not aware of their status. Latinos now account for the biggest proportion of cases of AIDS in L.A. County. Complicating the issue is the fact that Latinos and Blacks have high rates of late HIV detection, often getting an AIDS diagnosis within 12 months or less of finding out they are HIV positive.
“Taking the test is easy and confidential, but there many more reasons to take it,” said Juan Marcos Gutierrez Gonzales, the Consul General of Mexico. “It’s the right thing to do for yourself, your family and friends.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that more people nare being tested for HIV than ever before. Last year, 82.6 million adults age 18-64 reported they had been tested for HIV. This is an increase of more than 11 million since
2006, when CDC issued its recommendations for expanded testing in health care settings
“Testing plays a critical role in HIV prevention,“ Kay Dendy, National Account Manager with OraSure Technologies, Inc., manufacturer of OraQuick Advance Rapid HIV 1/2 Antibody Test. “When someone knows their status, we know they are more likely to change risky behaviors, and take care of themselves and their partners.”
The partnership between The Wall Las Memorias Project and Chivas USA is a joint effort to promote AIDS awareness and HIV testing in the Latino community. The purpose of this initiative is to reduce the stigma of HIV and AIDS and promote a healthy community through awareness, education and testing. The goal is to provide HIV testing to more than 250 individuals and generate awareness and interest among 15,000 soccer fans. Other partners in the effort include EraseDoubt.Org, the Mexican Consulate and the Salvadoran Consulate.
The Wall Las Memorias Project (www.thewalllasmemorias.org) is dedicated to promoting wellness and preventing illness among Latino populations affected by HIV/AIDS by using the inspiration of The AIDS Monument as a catalyst for social change.