Juanes is speaking out about an issue that impacts a growing number of U.S. Latinos. (Photo/Getty Images)

Juanes takes on key public health issue for young Latinos

Latinos are disproportionately affected by HIV, accounting for approximately 21 percent of all new HIV infection cases in the United States. That’s nearly three times the rate of infection for whites, reports the Centers for Disease Control, and a statistic that is being addressed by Juanes, a Colombian rocker and global music sensation.

“Did you know that in America, there are more than one million people living with HIV?” Juanes asks in a new public service announcement. “There are more than a thousand new HIV cases a month among youth 13 to 24 years of age. Be sure to get tested. In just 20 minutes, you can find out the results,” Juanes says in the video.

The PSA, sponsored by the non-profit HIV/AIDS organization Lifebeat in partnership with the CDC and MTV, places Juanes squarely at what is quickly becoming a not-so-silent issue among a growing number of Latino families.

“It’s shocking to think that an estimated 1,000 people get infected with HIV every single month in the United States,” says Guillermo Chacon, president of The Latino Commission on AIDS.

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Chacon – whose organization aims to raise awareness surrounding AIDS among Hispanics – explains that celebrities like Juanes are key to breaking down stigmas surrounding HIV testing among Latinos.

“Celebrities like Juanes are crucial to raising awareness, which is one of the most important ways for people to understand that HIV infection can be prevented,” says Chacon. “HIV is something that’s not talked about in schools and health campaigns, so Juanes is making a really important statement by lending his voice to this cause.”

While Juanes – who filmed the thirty-second YouTube video in conjunction with National HIV Testing Day on June 27 – is well known for his philanthropy and charity work, LGBT activist Monica Trasandes says she welcomes Latino celebrities weighing in on issues across HIV/AIDS and LGBT awareness.

“It’s important for Latinos to hear a compelling message about issues that can be difficult, especially someone that’s as respected and admired as Juanes,” notes Trasandes, GLAAD’s Director of Spanish-Language Media. “And this is an important issue to relay not only to Latinos, but to Anglos, African-Americans, men and women – when you get tested, you are taking care of yourself and the people around you.”

That’s a message Chacon says can’t be underestimated.

“National HIV Testing Day helps bring awareness to this issue,” says Chacon. “But the only way we can begin to think of a world without AIDS if we increase awareness, promote testing and connect people to care 365 days a year.”

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