Miami Herald (09.13.01) - Friday, September 14, 2001
In the battle against AIDS, many say that Hispanic voices have
been too quiet, even as statistics show that Hispanics are
contracting HIV at a rapid rate. Union Positiva, founded four
years ago, is the first organization in South Florida
dedicated to helping Spanish speakers prevent and treat AIDS.
Its founders' original goal was to pass along AIDS prevention
information to Latin America. But the nonprofit organization
now focuses on home, offering anonymous testing and
counseling, prevention education, street outreach, treatment
education and referrals in South Florida.
While gay and African-American communities demanded to be
heard by the government years ago, Hispanics have avoided the
topic of AIDS, said Dr. Eddie Sollie, a spokesperson for the
organization. "Our community doesn't like to talk about sex,"
Sollie said. "It's a taboo that we have to break, because the
AIDS virus doesn't make any exceptions." But now that activist
Luis Penelas Jr., brother of Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas,
has joined Union Positiva as its political advisor, the group
may be knocking at politicians' doors more often. "What I
encounter the most is ignorance and very genuine concern, but
the response is almost always positive," said Penelas, who has
spoken on about a dozen radio shows since joining the group.