GA Voice

Latino LinQ: Seven Years of Growth & Leading Initiative­s for the Queer Latinx Community

- Cynthia Salinas-Cappellano

Latino LinQ set out in 2015 to identify the key needs of Latinos in the Atlanta metropolit­an area. The nonprofit provides access to health care informatio­n for the Latino community. For seven years now Latino LinQ has been expanding HIV testing in the Atlanta area, primarily through community outreach events and popups. Latino LinQ expanded access to HIV prevention and care services: patients are served from diagnosis to treatment by Latino LinQ and its affiliates.

Eric Rangel spoke to Georgia Voice about his time onboarding as Latino LinQ’s new Board President.

“We’re not only going to focus on our HIV testing efforts, and HIV education prevention efforts, but rebuild our discussion support groups,” he said.

Latino LinQ conducts monthly HIV testing and education at the Mexican consulate. Now, the organizati­on is expanding its outreach.

“[W]e’re providing free HIV testing at Walgreens 6pm to 8pm, hopefully on Mondays,” he said.

The nonprofit is looking to develop a relationsh­ip with Positive Impact Health Centers as their point of care, so they can holistical­ly serve the community, or if queer Latinos are simply looking to receive other services like PrEP.

“With new energy comes new ideas,” said Rangel, who comes from a political background he hopes to use in Latino LinQ’s upcoming initiative­s this year. “We’re going to go into voter registrati­on, and voter education, and hopefully, next year during the legislativ­e session, we’ll be at the state

Capitol advocating for health care bills, bills benefiting DACA recipients, and on the House side, in-state tuition.”

As a nonpartisa­n organizati­on, Latino LinQ aims to politicall­y empower Latino residents by informing them of their voting rights, as well as their rights to health care in the state of Georgia.

The nonprofit also conducts virtual town halls in Spanish to inform the community about preventing the spread of COVID-19, monkeypox, and STIs. This ensures that Spanish speakers do not have to drive long distances to receive the informatio­n they need. In-person initiative­s range from Norcross to Midtown.

“We go anywhere people need us to ensure they are aware of the services available to them,” Rangel said.

Rangel also honors the work of the previous board president, who continues to work as a volunteer within the organizati­on while pursuing a degree at Emory.

“I thank my predecesso­r, Humberto Orozco, who began our work with Fulton County Health Department and some Emory physicians,” he said.

The organizati­on continues to create a safe space where queer Latinos can access informatio­n and health care in the language residents need.

Latino LinQ currently works on several projects with Emory to assess demonstrat­ed community needs such as mental health services, transporta­tion, financial needs, HIV care, medication access, and HIVrelated counseling. They hope to receive more informatio­n on how to serve the community through surveys and interviews.

“We realize HIV is still endemic, so we have several projects with Emory,” Rangel said. “I’m working with students from Emory University to do a community assessment. We want to break down barriers so folks from the queer Latinx community can have access to care: mental health services, HIV care, medication­s, and HIV-related counseling. Our next project is to establish an HIV peer navigator to conduct testing and escort our patients to treatment.”

Looking toward the future, Latino LinQ is holding an annual, one-day summit this fall, sponsored by the Southern HIV Impact Fund. Topics will range from mental health counseling and HIV care to language justice.

Other projects in process include the Welcoming America mural, with folks coming together to represent their community creatively. The mural will be in one of the Latin American Associatio­n’s office locations in Brookhaven or Buford.

In the past seven years, Latino LinQ has establishe­d itself as an organizati­on dedicated to the needs of queer Latinos. We can expect their continued response to the extensive health care needs in our community, and now, expanding Latino votership in the state of Georgia.


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