National Latinx AIDS Awareness Day (NLAAD) is coming to Compass in Lake Worth  for the first time ever. 

The center will host a free Latinx AIDS Community Education talk Oct. 15, to bring awareness to the role of HIV testing and prevention for the Hispanic/Latinx community. Compass is the only direct service provider for the LGBT community in Palm Beach County.

“Compass provides Community Education events throughout the year. However, this is first time we've held one in recognition of National Latinx HIV/AIDS Awareness Day,” Lysette Perez, Compass Health Services Coordinator said.

Latinx is the gender neutral alternative to terms like “Latino” or “Latina.”

The event, held in the Fiandaca Ballroom, will include dinner for the attendees and a presentation by a nurse, who’s worked with patients with HIV before. The presentation will be in Spanish, but there will be bilingual staff present to interpret for English speakers, according to Perez.

NLAAD is organized by the Latino Commission on AIDS, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting health advocacy and HIV education. This year’s theme is “Ending HIV is Everyone’s Job.”

“The NLAAD 2018 campaign wanted to be simple, direct and powerful. We hope to present the existing tools that can assist to end the HIV epidemic and ask everyone to do their part,” the Latino Commission on AIDS said.

Compass is doing their part by integrating more programs that are representative of their surroundings.

“Compass serves a diverse population and works continually to be inclusive of all community members,” Perez said.

The event is free and donations are welcome, but Compass asks that guests register on eventbrite before the event.


How NLAAD got its start

National Latinx AIDS Awareness Day was founded in 2003 by the Latino Commission on AIDS and Hispanic Federation.

Oct. 15 was chosen because it is the last day of Hispanic Heritage Month, according to NLAAD’s website. 

The commission provides organizations at the local level with the resources they need to spread awareness of HIV/AIDS in their communities. NLAAD has so far reached 450 partners who organize over 150 events annually.

The Latino Commission on AIDS stresses the importance of spreading awareness by the numbers. In 2016 alone, there were over 40,000 new HIV diagnoses in the U.S. Over 25 percent of those cases were in the Hispanic/Latinx community, and they only represent 18 percent of the population. Among that, 85 percent of the cases in Hispanic/Latinx males were from male-to-male sexual contact.

While cases in Hispanic/Latinx women decreased, cases in Hispanic/Latinx bisexual or gay males increased, according to the CDC.

We see the impact of stigma, homophobia, and transphobia as major barriers in accessing HIV testing, prevention, treatment and care in our community,” their website says.