The San Francisco AIDS Foundation is trying to adapt its messaging efforts to target Latinos, who continue to face disproportionately high rates of HIV infection, reports Erika Cebreros for El Mensajero. A 2008 study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 18,230 California Latinos were living with AIDS.

Jorge Zepeda, director of Latino programs at the AIDS Foundation, said it’s not enough to translate messages into Spanish. The real need is to address the social and cultural barriers that impede prevention and early detection. Latinos who are HIV positive tend to seek medical care in later stages of infection compared to the general population.

Zepeda said messages have to be customized to apply to the reality and culture of the immigrant community. For example, one message in Zepeda's campaigns addresses those who send money home to family members in their home country. The foundation warns immigrants that if they don't take care of their bodies and their health, they won't be able to support their loved ones.

Other strategies involve utilizing mothers as a “powerful weapon” in the battle against HIV and transforming machismo into a positive message of defending one's family.