By Julie Zeglen
For most groups, the new HIV infection rate has been decreasing over the years.
But for Latino gay men, the opposite is happening: One in four are set to contract HIV in their lifetime.
“This is so alarming,” said Francisco Cortes, youth program manager at GALAEI. “This is a crisis. We think the HIV field has gone so far since the ’70s and ’80s, and to have alarming rates like this, it means there’s still work that needs to be done.”
One way GALAEI, a queer Latino health and social justice organization in Norris Square, is tackling this issue is through a new program this fall called Project Y.E.A.H. — Youth Education and Art Advocacy on HIV — which will educate youth on HIV and allow them to create a community art piece on the topic.
GALAEI also runs the S.O.Y. program — Supporting Our Youth — which offers case management services for about 350 LGBTQ youth struggling with personal issues.
“Within the LGBT movement, there’s been so many progressions and there’s been so many great milestones, but there’s also been groups of people who have been left out and are still struggling,” Cortes said. “A lot of times, these are the Black and Brown youth, the poor kids, the kids from inner cities. Having a program like S.O.Y. is going to be able to help them out.”
That program is expanding this fall, thanks to a grant from the Department of Human Services, which will allow Cortes to hire support staff and double the number of youth served. Learn more about GALAEI’s youth programming in Cortes’ “Around the Corner” interview below.