A new initiative in North Carolina hopes to tackle disproportionately high rates of HIV/AIDS among Latinos in the state, reports the News & Observer (newsobserver.com, 1/25).

The state-sponsored campaign will include Spanish-language public service announcements, free testing at Latino community festivals and efforts to rally community activists to address the problem.

Though Latinos account for six percent of North Carolina’s population, they represented eight percent of reported HIV cases in the state in 2006. According to a recent statewide survey, the HIV rate for Latinos is 29.8 cases per 100,000 people—compared to the overall state average of 23.3.

The campaign hopes to increase testing within the Latino community and overcome language barriers that might stop people from getting the care and treatment they need.

“We need the Latino community to understand the complexity and extent of this epidemic,” said Jesus Felizzola, who is coordinating the initiative.