Latino LinQ / Photo via Facebook

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

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 pop-ups. 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 HIV-related 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.