When the latest HIV prevalence consensus report was released in San Francisco in 1997, statistics revealed increasing HIV rates among gay and bisexual men of color. Among gay men of color, Latinos had the highest rates of HIV infection. In response to this, the STOP AIDS Project decided to heighten their HIV prevention efforts for Latino gay and bisexual men.
STOP AIDS convened a meeting for all of the agencies in San Francisco providing HIV prevention services for Latino gay and bisexual men. “We wanted to bring all of the providers to the same table to increase communication between the agencies and to learn what types of HIV prevention activities each of the agencies were doing.” said Héctor Carillo, former STOP AIDS Project Deputy Director and current CAPS researcher. Another aim was to get a sense of which segments of the gay Latino community each agency was reaching. “What we discovered in that meeting was that we were all reaching a part of this diverse community. There was overlap, but each agency had access to a specific segment of the community,” Héctor said.
Acknowledging and integrating each community based organizations’ expertise strengthened the campaign. “Every organization was valued and every group was covered and it made folks feel less defensive.” said Robert Pérez, former Communications Director of STOP AIDS.
At that meeting, the agencies realized that there was no unified media to reach the community as a whole, and decided to pursue a media campaign. The STOP AIDS Project had the experience in developing media campaigns and access to funds for the project, while the other agencies had access to each of the various segments of the gay Latino community. Representatives from all of the agencies involved formed a planning committee to create the media campaign. The result is “Families Change, Families Grow/Las Familias Cambian, Las Familias Crecen”– a research-grounded media campaign created through this collaborative effort involving Mission Neighborhood Health Center, Proyecto ContraSIDA por Vida, El Ambiente and the STOP AIDS Project.