National Institutes of Health Grant Urges Latino Males to Receive Free Confidential HIV Testing -, NewsCenter17, StormCenter17, Central Illinois News-

National Institutes of Health Grant Urges Latino Males to Receive Free Confidential HIV Testing

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SOURCE Activate Brands

Groundbreaking Project Reaches High-Risk Community with Crucial Message

SEATTLE, Jan. 29, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Today marks the launch of "Conoces a Pepe? Have you met Pepe?," a social impact campaign focusing on educating and mobilizing Hispanic/Latino communities to live their best life with HIV testing and taking responsibility for their health. 

Project Pepe launched with a National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded grant to the University of Washington and the King County Seattle community to become a catalyst with a culturally sensitive campaign to promote free HIV testing opportunities for young Latino men 18-25 years old.

Pepe's mission is to draw attention to the importance of HIV testing, education and prevention in Latino communities. The campaign's theme is "Test & Enjoy Life." (Hazte la prueba y disfruta la vida.)

Pepe represents a character who encourages testing and safe sex unique to the Latino male community. Pepe will be a "secret" code name to encourage HIV testing. Pepe is there to assure privacy and protection. 

Latinos are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS, with an annual incidence rate three times those of non-Latino Whites. Over 90% of Latino men who undergo HIV testing will receive good news, thus giving them an opportunity to practice safe sex and remain HIV free.

Latinos are at greater risk for delayed diagnosis compared to non-Latino Whites. This delay in HIV diagnosis is something the campaign seeks to address. Although urban areas have expanded HIV testing, in Western states such as California and Washington, Latino immigrants continue to be diagnosed significantly later than non-Latino whites.

Individuals unaware they are living with HIV are less likely to benefit from treatment and are estimated to be 3.5 times more likely to transmit HIV to others compared to individuals who are aware of being HIV positive.

Studies indicate 70% who find they are HIV positive stop having unsafe sex; therefore, timely knowledge of a positive HIV status offers substantial public health benefits.

"Our focus group testing has shown how fear of a positive result, lack of perceived benefits, concerns over confidentiality of testing, finances, denial of risk and cultural factors, lead to young men avoiding getting tested," said Principal Investigator Rosa Solorio, MD, MPH. "Pepe's theme Test, Enjoy Your Life is a positive statement that has been well received by these young men, and messages like 90% of all results is good news will help them continue to enjoy their best life." 

"This campaign was designed to help make High-Impact Prevention possible by reducing fear with HIV testing," said Activate Communications Consultant Pamela Norton-Shelpuk. "Pepe is engaging with them via mobile, social, radio and online channels to help change behaviors to test and live, thereby decreasing the toll of HIV on our nation."

Adelante Media Group will partner with the Pepe Campaign in the Seattle market and promote the free HIV testing on their radio and streaming media stations.

Meet Pepe: or text BUENASNOTICIAS to 99000.

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