October 15, 2010 20:08 ET

AGUILAS, Latino Agencies Gain Critical Support From Elected Officials Regarding Need for Equitable Funding for HIV Prevention for Latinos by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

SAN FRANCISCO, CA--(Marketwire - October 15, 2010) -  A press conference and community forum was hosted recently by AGUILAS, Inc., a non-profit organization and the largest Gay Latino Organization in the San Francisco Bay Area, in order to raise local and national awareness about the lack of HIV prevention funding awarded to Latino Agencies by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Elected officials pledging their support included Senator Mark Leno, Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, and San Francisco Board of Supervisors David Campos and Bevan Dufty. In addition, Eric Alborg, representative from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, offered the cooperation of the regional office in order to have the CDC meet with local Latino Programs to discuss funding inequities and the critical issues presented.

While CDC declared Latino men who have sex with men (MSM) a top priority for HIV prevention funding due to escalating HIV infection rates and AIDS cases, in fact only one Latino program west of the Mississippi was funded through this direct funding by CDC. "In August 2010, CDC awarded $42 million to be allocated to 133 community-based organizations in the United States from 2010 to 2015," said Eduardo Morales, Ph.D., Executive Director of AGUILAS and Distinguished Professor of Alliant International University. "According to the 2008 U.S. Census, over 65% of all Latinos in the U.S. reside west of the Mississippi, and Latino MSM represent over 78% of all Latinos with HIV/AIDS nationally. CDC's lack of funding for Latino Agencies constitutes not just a local health risk, but a serious national health issue as well."

Event attendees decided to launch a letter-writing campaign, petition, and social networking initiative, appealing to President Barack Obama; Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius; Acting Comptroller General of the United States, Gene L. Dodaro; and congressional representatives to investigate and immediately correct the lack of direct funding by CDC. In addition, the organization requests that the Comptroller General conduct a full audit of CDC in relation to determining the amount of HIV funding for Latinos in the U.S. through CDC direct funding. Information about the letter-writing campaign, sample letter, sample petition form, and press release on the Latino AIDS Awareness event held in San Francisco can be found on the AGUILAS website at

The press conference and community forum was hosted by AGUILAS, along with other Northern California and national health and human agencies such as Aids Legal Referral Panel, Quelaco (Queer Latino/a Artists Coalition), La Clinica de la Raza, Amor Sin Fronteras, Mission Neighborhood Health Center, Concordia Seminars, S.F. Trans Latinas Club, Instituto Familiar de la Raza, Gente Latina del Ambiente, Community United against Violence, Antares, ELLA, and NLAAD (National Latino Aids Awareness Day).

At the press conference, Dr. Morales presented a disturbing update concerning questionable CDC communications with media:

On September 15, 2009, AGUILAS and the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, requested information from CDC about funding for capacity building assistance targeting Latino MSM. After more than a year, AGUILAS received a letter dated September 8, 2010 from the CDC Federal Office of Information Disclosure, stating that additional time is required to process this request. 

An additional letter requesting information about HIV services for Latino MSM was sent by AGUILAS to Dr. Jonathan Mermin, CDC Director of HIV/AIDS Prevention. A reply dated August 2, 2010 from Dr. Mermin stated that 1) the information requested was not available from his office, and must be requested from CDC's Freedom of Information Act Office; and 2) a copy of the AGUILAS letter would be sent to that office.

However, while speaking with two reporters just prior to the press conference on October 13, Dr. Morales was informed by the reporters that CDC had provided those journalists with information about HIV services for Latino MSM that was similar to the information requested by AGUILAS in its letters, and which the CDC Federal Office of Information Disclosure and its Director Dr. Mermin stated they could not provide. This places in question the integrity, professionalism, and ethical behavior of CDC concerning the disclosure of information and proper process.

Morales said, "While the Speaker of House, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi and HIV health professionals do not have access to critical funding information, it is interesting that CDC released the requested information through personal communications with the press rather than inform its colleagues. This only supports the level of suspicion surrounding CDC and their lack of funding appropriated for Latino HIV prevention in these last rounds of funding."


AGUILAS is a San Francisco-based Latino gay and bisexual non-profit organization offering programs focused on HIV/AIDS awareness, prevention, education, and outreach in a supportive and culturally sensitive environment. The services offered by the agency are consistent with the standards for services in the HIV Prevention Plan, and the agency meets all requirements of the City and County of San Francisco. It is registered with the Human Rights Commission, and has filed the required cultural competency plan. AGUILAS is the only organization in the Western part of the U.S. established, developed, and administered by and for Latino gay and bisexual men for any service delivery. AGUILAS' target population is one of the HPPC's highest priorities. AGUILAS is only one of three Latino gay/bisexual organizations in the country providing services. The other two are in Boston, Massachusetts and Austin, Texas. For more information, please visit

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