Over the past year I’ve had the honor to work alongside six amazing Latinx leaders from right here in Phoenix.  The goal of the Loteria project is to create ripples in our community and to raise awareness around HIV.  Since we first started this project, I’ve been able to witness the amazing work this group has done each month by educating their friends, family and social networks on the importance of getting tested for HIV.

In the Latino culture sex is considered very taboo and rarely ever talked about. Stigma often keeps many of us from getting  tested and talking openly about our status with others. What’s been amazing to see during this project are the conversations that take place. When we start to normalize these conversations around safer sex and HIV, we can then make healthy decisions to protect ourselves and our partners. Rates of new HIV infection are still on the rise in the Latino community and Latinos make up 27% of new HIV infections in the U.S., most of the new infection rates are among gay and bisexual Latino men.

Today we have the tools in our toolbox to keep ourselves and others safe. From limiting your sexual partners, to using condoms when having sex or taking PrEP a daily pill that prevents HIV.

If you’re a person living with HIV, you can prevent transmitting HIV to others by taking you medication daily as prescribed. Getting to an undetectable viral load means there is ZERO risk of transmitting the virus sexually to your partners. Plus, you can live a long healthy life.

In Maricopa County Latinos make up 31.3% of the population, if we can encourage our friends and family to test regularly and use the tools in our toolbox we can lower the number of new HIV infections here in our community. It’s going to take all of us to help end the HIV epidemic. Remember, having open and honest conversations with our partners about sex gives you control of the types of sex you have.

There are plenty of resources out there for you to use and if you need help accessing them, please reach out to one of the Loteria team members. We are here for you!

Now that the Loteria Project is coming to an end for 2020, I want to give special thanks to The National Library of Medicine for funding this project. Thank you to Stacy’s for hosting the Loteria Project before COVID-19, thank you to everyone who registered to play, thanks you to those who clicked on our articles or ordered an at-home HIV test kit and thank you to our amazing Loteria team onstage and behind the scenes!

We’ll continue to have our articles posted, so if you didn’t get a chance to read them all, please check them out!  Be safe, Happy Holidays and we hope the project will be back in 2021!!