As highly-charged rhetoric in Washington DC continues to call for stepped up deportation of immigrants and increased barriers to immigration from wide swaths of our globe, it is important to consider the impact this environment can have on openness and ability to seek out HIV testing.
Research from Temple University shows that fears over immigration status can be one of the factors that affect willingness to be tested for HIV. This is in addition to other barriers to accessing health care that exist for communities of color, even in the best of political climates. To be certain, communities of color have long faced increased barriers to accessing health care and often experience poorer health as a result.
The heightened barriers faced by immigrant communities seeking health care services highlight the need for safe and affirming care.
Many of Pride Foundation’s community partners work tirelessly to provide exactly such resources for individuals seeking HIV testing and treatment and other health care. Three community partner organizations working in the realm of HIV & AIDS services in Western Washington are PCAF, Gay City, and Entre Hermanos.
PCAF (Pierce County AIDS Foundation) located in Tacoma, Washington provides a wide suite of services to those infected or affected by HIV/AIDS. A pioneer in the field, PCAF was the first agency in the United States to provide and support a clean needle exchange. Utilizing a harm-reduction lens, the agency emphasizes respect for clients through self-determination. PCAF invests significant resources to reduce the stigma associated with HIV as well as the intersecting identities of their clients through educational and support services.
Gay City promotes wellness in Seattle’s LGBTQ communities and is a leading provider in HIV and STI testing. Gay City aims to empower clients through culturally responsive and linguistically appropriate services, thus reducing barriers.
Entre Hermanos promotes the health and wellbeing of the Latino/a/x LGBTQ community of Seattle. Entre Hermanos values culturally specific programming that addresses root causes of inequality and oppression. A cornerstone of their work is community building, creating a holistic approach to care. Services are provided to clients through community supports such as groups and events, comprehensive medical case management, testing, and referrals to resources throughout Seattle. Every Monday afternoon Entre Hermanos offers quick and free HIV testing. The organization also helps clients living with HIV to manage their care.
The services outlined above are especially critical to stemming a worrying trend: the spread of HIV in the Latino/a/x community. In 2014, Latino/a/x individuals accounted for nearly 25% of all estimated new diagnoses of HIV in the United States, despite representing about 17% of the total US population, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Pride Foundation is grateful to all of the amazing community partners who are working to reverse this course and support HIV testing and a range of critical services for all immigrant communities. Together, we can ensure that our family, friends, and neighbors can protect and care for themselves and their families now, and moving forward.
By Andy Coate and Katelen Kellogg