Health Department Launches “¡Listos!”, First Ever HIV Prevention Campaign For Latinos

The Health Department, in partnership with the Latino Commission on AIDS (LCOA), launched “¡Listos!”, a sex-positive marketing campaign that encourages Latinos to consider using pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) as part of their sexual health plan. PrEP is a safe, daily pill that greatly reduces the risk of HIV infection. In 2016, only 16 percent of sexually active Latinos in New York City were aware of PrEP, and fewer Latinos are taking PrEP compared to Whites. “¡Listos!”, which translates to “Ready!” in Spanish, is the agency’s first awareness campaign to be conceived of and largely released in Spanish. The campaign also seeks to dispel common myths about PrEP’s safety, effectiveness and availability so that all New Yorkers, regardless of ability to pay or immigration status, are aware of the HIV prevention options available to them. In March, the Health Department launched “Living Sure”, a campaign to inform women, including cisgender and transgender women, about using PrEP as an HIV prevention tool.

“Members of the Latino community, as well as other communities of color, are not aware of the benefits and importance of PrEP usage,” said Health Commissioner Mary T. Bassett. “The Health Department is committed to ensuring that all of our residents are educated about the various measures that can be taken to reduce the risk of HIV. This new and innovative campaign will inform Latinos about PrEP, as well as save lives. I thank the Latino Commission on AIDS for their support on this significant project.”

Overall, Latinos in New York City represented more than one-third of new HIV diagnoses in 2016. Although the number of new HIV diagnoses among Latinos has decreased by more than 25 percent between 2012 and 2016, HIV continues to be a serious health issue that disproportionately affects Latino communities. In 2016, the HIV diagnosis rate among Latino men was two times higher than the rate among White men, and the rate among Latina women was over five times higher than among White women. The disparities are still more severe for transgender Latinas. Forty-nine percent of transgender women newly diagnosed with HIV between 2012 and 2016 were Latina.

“The New York City PrEP model is a shining beacon to national and international jurisdictions,” said Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, Deputy Commissioner for the Health Department’s Division of Disease Control. “With ‘¡Listos!’ we continue to redefine sex-positive strategies to increase PrEP utilization in all communities that can benefit regardless of primary language, immigration status, or ability to pay. Linguistic and culturally responsive campaigns and programming, such as this one, continue to be necessary to achieve our goal of ending the HIV epidemic by 2020.”

“We are honored to be part of the ‘¡Listos!’ campaign, the first of its kind by the New York City Health Department,” said Guillermo Chacon, President of the Latino Commission on AIDS (LCOA) and founder of the Hispanic Health Network. “The best ingredient of sound public health is leadership and actions in order to ensure the wellbeing of all New Yorkers. The ‘¡Listos!’ campaign will empower and save lives in our communities.”

“Broadening access to life-saving measures like PrEP is crucial in the fight against HIV/AIDS,” said State Senator Brad Hoylman. “Listos! will ensure that all New Yorkers, regardless of their immigration status or ability to pay, are aware of the full-range of HIV prevention options available to them. Thank you to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Latino Commission on AIDS for spearheading this critical awareness campaign.”

“The New York City Health Department continues to amaze me,” said Cristina Herrera, founder and CEO of the Translatina Network. “The upcoming PrEP campaign that is geared to Latino communities will be instrumental in bringing an additional tool for our community so that they can continue to stay HIV negative. The Latino community is always eager to access and adapt ways to stay healthy.”

“We commend the City for working with the Latino Commission on AIDS to launch this bilingual campaign around how Latinos can access PrEP and take life-saving steps to protect themselves and others against HIV-transmission,” said José Calderón, President of the Hispanic Federation. “By reflecting the experiences of a range of Latinos, this prevention campaign is bound to keep more people HIV-free.”

“I thank the Health Department and LCOA for working together on such an essential project,” said Rosemary Lopez, Executive Director of the AIDS Center of Queens County. “¡Listos! will not only educate the Latino community about HIV prevention, but it will empower Latinos by informing them that they have control over their health.”

New Yorkers today have more HIV prevention options than ever, including PrEP.

To find PrEP, New Yorkers can talk to their health care provider, call 311, or visit the NYC Health Map to find a provider.

The Health Department is committed to addressing the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and ensuring that all New Yorkers are healthy and safe. Services and initiatives include:

Ending the Epidemic

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Ending the Epidemic (EtE) plan aims to end the HIV epidemic by 2020 in New York City. It includes a $23 million investment to reduce the number of new HIV infections and ensure a strong infrastructure for STI prevention. Last year, the Health Department announced that 2,279 people were newly diagnosed with HIV in 2016, down 8.6 percent from 2015 and representing an all-time time low since HIV reporting began in 2001.

PrEP and PEP Detailing Campaign

The one-on-one educational clinic visits about PrEP and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) have reached more than 2,500 providers at more than 1,300 clinical sites in New York City. Clinics that recently diagnosed HIV and other STIs among Black and Latino men who have sex with men (MSM) were prioritized, as were practices in high poverty neighborhoods.

Sexual Health Clinics

The City’s clinics offer low- to no-cost services, including STI screening at extra-genital sites such as the rectum and throat. The clinics also offer PrEP initiation for eligible patients, with linkage to longer-term care and PEP, an emergency medication for people who are HIV-negative and may have been exposed to HIV. This year, the agency re-opened the Chelsea Sexual Health Clinic. The newly revamped clinic provides expanded sexual health services, including state-of-the-art HIV treatment and prevention as well as express testing services.

PlaySure Network for HIV Prevention

A network of clinical and nonclinical providers working together to ensure that all New Yorkers, especially those without health insurance, have access to HIV testing, HIV treatment, PrEP and PEP. Members promote patient-specific approaches to sexual health for people who may be exposed to HIV – including gay and bisexual men, transgender people, and people who have a partner living with HIV – and refer those with HIV to care services so they can get treated and become virally suppressed.

Be Sure, Play Sure, Stay Sure

In December 2015, the Health Department launched Play Sure – a novel health marketing campaign to prevent HIV and other STIs – followed by Stay Sure in 2016, and Living Sure in early 2018. The goal of these sex-positive campaigns is to encourage all New Yorkers to choose their preferred tools to prevent HIV and other STIs, regardless of their HIV status. The Health Department also developed the #PlaySure Kit, an innovative safer sex toolkit designed to hold everything New Yorkers need to play sure, such as condoms, lube, and the prevention pills of their choice (e.g., PrEP, PEP, or HIV medications). Since the #PlaySure Kit was unveiled on World AIDS Day 2015, over 173,000 have been distributed. #PlaySure Kits are available for free at the City’s Sexual Health Clinics as well as at participating community-based organizations and community events throughout the year. Distribution locations are also available by calling 311.

Health of Latinos in New York City

Last September, the Health Department released “Health of Latinos in New York City,” a comprehensive report of 51 indicators describing the health of the largest Latino heritage groups in New York City. The report highlights key demographics, as well as socioeconomic, housing, and neighborhood conditions that may impact the health of Latino New Yorkers, such as employment, education, and rent burden. It also examines three critical public health areas: healthy living, health status and health care, and birth and death outcomes. The report offers detailed insight into the health disparities among our City’s Latino communities.

Find out more information here.

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