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Local Health Agency Steps Up Efforts to Reach Latino Community

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Latinos make up an estimated 13 percent of the population but 18 percent all new AIDS cases in the U.S. according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But a non-profit agency in Northern Virginia says a new focus on the Latino community there is starting to make a difference.

K.I. Services is a health service agency that's targeted the region's minority populations since 2001.

But Yvonne Williams, K.I.s Executive Director says this year the agency's efforts with the Latino population have been more successful, because of new bilingual counselors.

"Now that we have two full-time Latino workers, we have found new sites that I didn't even know about out," Williams says.

Marco Vallejo is one of the new counselors.

He says its not just a shared language that allows him to talk with Latinos about HIV/AIDS.

"We grew up with the same taboos, and the same customs in our countries," Vallejo says. "We understand each other."

K.I. Services will continue their efforts to educate and treat AIDS in the local Latino community on Saturday with free HIV testing for two hours at Tenant and Workers United in Alexandria, Virginia starting at 10:00 in the morning.

Jonathan Wilson reports...

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