churches were a vehicle for political mobilization and that "exposure to political information in a church setting is highly correlated with church based campaign activism" (Brown, 1991:255).
The Latino/Hispanic population in this country is extraordinarily diverse and comprises a number of groups that differ significantly from one another (e.g., Cubans, Mexicans, Puerto Ricans). The panel's limited assessment of potential concerns within the Latino/Hispanic populations did not reveal any organized opposition to needle exchange programs from these communities. On the contrary, some individual community leaders, political figures, and health care providers have been instrumental in their advocacy of needle exchange programs.
First, second, and third generations of Dominicans, Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Mexicans, and new immigrants from Central America constitute a far more complex cultural web than the term Latino community implies. There is no single voice, nor is there a single cultural response. Nonetheless, it is worth noting that almost all of the legal needle exchange programs in New York City are located in Latino/Hispanic neighborhoods, largely due to the advocacy of Yolanda Serrano, a Puerto Rican community worker who served as executive director of the Association for Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment.
In a recent press release, Latino elected officials, Latino clergy, and the Latino Commission on AIDS called on the Governor of New York and the Mayor of New York City to provide funding for the expansion of needle exchange programs (Latino Commission on AIDS, 1994). Several Latino leaders have confirmed their support for the message of that press release; they include (but are not limited to) members of Congress Jose Serrano and Nydia Velasquez; Assembly members Vito Lopez, Hector Diaz, and Roberto Ramírez; and City Council members Adam Clayton Powell, Guillermo Linares, Lucy Cruz, José Rivera, and Israel Ruiz. Dennis DeLeón, executive director of the Latino Commission on AIDS, stated (Latino Commission on AIDS, 1994:1):
Considering that HIV infection associated with IV drug use is the common route of transmission of the virus among Latinos and Latinas in New York City, it would be criminal to delay expansion of needle exchange programs. Our lives are at stake.
Latino community members have also urged that, if AIDS prevention programs are to be effective, issues of family and children's safety are critical and require that the programs address sexual and perinatal transmission issues as well as transmission through injection drug users (Rodriguez,