National Hispanic Heritage Month 2012

Oct. 10, 2012 College News - In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, the Medical College of Wisconsin is creating a series of video vignettes and stories that will be posted on InfoScope.  The vignettes highlight some of the Hispanic and Latino members of the MCW community and the contributions they have made. The stories highlight MCW programs that improve the health of underserved populations (including Hispanic and Latino), offer these populations improved access to health care and education, and reduce health disparities.

All of the vignettes and stories will be added to the College’s Hispanic Heritage Month 2012 Web page as they are published.

National Hispanic Heritage Month was created to celebrate the cultures, histories and contributions of Americans whose ancestors came from Spain, Portugal, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America. Most heritage months take place within a particular calendar month, but Hispanic Heritage Month is held over parts of two months to incorporate significant dates within the Hispanic community: Sept. 15, which is the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua; Sept. 16, which is the anniversary of Mexico’s independence; Sept. 18, which is the anniversary of Chile’s independence; Sept. 21, which is the anniversary of Belize’s independence; and Oct. 12, which is Columbus Day. Columbus Day celebrates the day in 1492 when Spanish explorer Christopher Columbus discovered America.

Puerto Rican Student Loan Fund
The MCW Puerto Rican Student Loan Fund was established in 1996 by Eli A Ramirez, MD, and his wife, Betty Ramirez, for Puerto Rican students who demonstrate need, have academic merit, and meet one or more of the criterion of the College’s diversity policy.  The loan is interest-free throughout the recipient’s schooling and medical residency. 

Erin Hanlin (middle) poses with her mentor, Dr. Hargarten (left), and Angelica Delegado from the United Community Center after receiving her 2012 Volunteer of the Year Award

Erin Hanlin (middle) poses with her mentor, Dr. Hargarten (left), and Angelica Delegado from the United Community Center after receiving her 2012 Volunteer of the Year Award

Assisting the Latino community through the Global Health Pathway Program
Erin Hanlin, a fourth-year medical student, received the 2012 Volunteer of the Year award from Milwaukee’s United Community Center (UCC) for her work on fall prevention among the UCC’s elderly Latino participants. A student in MCW’s global health pathway program, Hanlin conducted a needs assessment of the risk of falls in older adult Latinos as part of her global health pathway scholarly project, and used the results to develop the prevention program throughout her first three years of medical school. Hanlin began this project during the summer of her M1 year and was mentored by Stephen Hargarten, MD, MPH, Associate Dean of the Global Health Program, Chairman and Professor of Emergency Medicine and Director of the Injury Research Center.

HIV/AIDS
The Center for AIDS Intervention Research (CAIR) at MCW is currently conducting studies which seek to reduce HIV/AIDS disparities in Hispanic and Latino communities.

Structural and Social Contexts of Substance Use, Violence and HIV Risk among Adolescent Gangs
Julia Dickson-Gomez, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine, directs a CAIR research team that is carrying out a four-year study funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to explore the role of gangs and environmental factors on gang members’ sexual activity, drug use, and violence. The project will interview members of African American and Latino gangs in Milwaukee in order to understand factors that influence substance use and high-risk sexual behavior, with a particular focus on social contexts and settings that contribute to risk. Study results will be used to develop a multilevel prevention intervention program that targets multiple social health problems among adolescents involved in gang activities.

Exploring a peer-led strategy to link recent Latino immigrants to HIV testing
In a National Institute of Mental Health-funded study, Laura Glasman, PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine, is collaborating with the Sixteenth Street Community Health Center to increase access to voluntary HIV counseling and testing (VCT) services among recent Latino immigrant men.  In the United States, Latino immigrant men adopt risky practices and become disproportionally affected by HIV in terms of incidence, rates of undiagnosed infections, and access to treatment. This vulnerability has been attributed to factors that also hamper their access to venue-based and outreach HIV prevention efforts, including unawareness of HIV risk and HIV-related stigma. This project explores the feasibility of promoting VCT among Latino immigrant men using their social connections. The project also endeavors to identify factors that increase the efficacy of this method to reach at-risk immigrants who would not otherwise have accessed VCT. Findings of this study will inform an enhanced peer chain referral strategy to engage hard-to-reach recent Latino immigrant men in VCT. If successful, this strategy will help to identify undiagnosed HIV-positive immigrants and initiate opportunities to provide prevention counseling, facilitate contact with health services, and encourage discussions on HIV within Latino immigrants’ networks.

Another CAIR faculty member, Dr. Julia Lechuga, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine, also is working on a study to improve the sexual and reproductive health of Latino families. Her project was highlighted in the Sept. 27 Hispanic Heritage Month story.

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