Fri. Jan 28th, 2022

On Oct. 3, 2012, GALAEI’s Nikki Lopez, the MPACT Youth Coordinator and Karla Diaz, the Youth Education Coordinator, came to inform West Chester students of what GALAEI is, what their mission is, and how they help Philadelphia residents.

GALAEI is a non-profit organization, whose mission is to cause awareness and improve the quality of living in Philadelphia’s Latino LGBTQ communities, with a focus on HIV/AIDS and other issues of health.

Lopez began by sharing a soulful story of two male lovers who were “stripped of humanity” when their “tango meant for two” was invaded by a third party, HIV. With the audience’s interest captured, Lopez then presented three statements that carried throughout her entire presentation. “Where are we? Where we are at. Where we are going.” When describing “Where are we?” she gave a brief history of how awareness of HIV/AIDS has progressed since the 1980s. In 1983, HIV/AIDS was referred to as GRID, Gay Related Immunodeficiency Disease. By 1989, women and children were included into that group and prevention methods began. She then moved onto “Where we are at,” describing what prevention is occurring presently, and how education is the best possible route to prevention. GALAEI offers a three-day program, beginning with HIV 101. HIV 101 consists of basic information on HIV/AIDS and what impacts people’s decisions. The second day consists of how to stay protected and the ten steps to using a condom correctly. The last day allows the people in the program to gain and practice skills through role play and scenarios.  

With education and prevention as its priorities, GALAEI has tested approximately 1,340 people, with 11 newly identified as HIV positive. But within the year, GALAEI wishes to test 1,350 people and identify 25 new HIV positive individuals, in an effort to provide them care and support.

GALAEI is currently looking for interns. For more information, contact Nikki Lopez at nlopez@galaei.org or visit GALAEI’s national website at www.galaei.org.

Amy Shah is a first-year student majoring in computer science. She can be reached at AS793452@wcupa.edu.

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