Poder Sano

Poder Sano is an initiative of Farmworker Justice that mobilizes rural Latino communities around HIV/AIDS prevention, detection, and treatment. Through this project, Farmworker Justice provides free capacity-building assistance and community mobilization tools to strengthen and support HIV prevention programs in community-based organizations, health clinics, and other agencies that serve rural Latino populations. Aligned with the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS) and High Impact Prevention (HIP) strategies, Poder Sano builds capacity and provides technical assistance to support HIV/AIDS programs in these vulnerable communities.
Poder Sano mobilizes rural Latino communities around HIV prevention through the promotores de salud model. The promotores de salud strategy is an evidenced-based intervention where community members are empowered to deliver health messages in the language and setting that is most natural for their friends, neighbors, and other community members. The promotores model has proven successful with hard to reach populations including migrant and seasonal farmworkers.
The HIV Epidemic in Rural Latino Communities:

Data from the National Center for Farmworker Health 

  • Data regarding the incidence of HIV/ AIDS in migrant and seasonal farmworkers is scarce and has primarily been conducted with small, local populations. Research has identified HIV infection rates among farmworkers ranging from 2.6 percent to as high as 13 percent.
  •  In one study, it was noted that HIV diagnoses increased 7.8% annually between 2003 and 2006 along the U.S.- Mexico border. Increases were particularly significant for those men who have sex with other men (MSM).
  •  Latinos are disproportionately affected by HIV; in 2009, Latinos represented only 16% of the total United States population and 20% of new HIV infections.
  • Migration between Mexico and the U.S. has recently been highlighted as a source of rising HIV/AIDS rates in Mexico and Mexican officials now estimate that 30 percent of their country’s HIV/AIDS cases are caused by migrant workers returning from the United States. 
Risk Factors and Behaviors
  • Characteristics of farmworkers’ migrant lifestyle can contribute to an increased risk of contracting HIV. These factors include poverty, low income, sub-standard housing, limited access to healthcare, limited English proficiency, a mobile lifestyle and social isolation. 
  • Many studies over the last few years have suggested viewing social determinants of health as a risk for HIV/AIDS in migrant and seasonal farmworkers, as opposed to the individual acts of this group. 
Knowledge, Attitudes & Beliefs 
  •  A 2007 study of farmworkers in New York found that 33 percent believed that HIV is no longer a serious problem in the United States, 32 percent believed that HIV only affects gay men and drug users, 27 percent believed that a person should not have to be tested for HIV if he or she looks healthy and 13 percent believed that HIV/AIDS is curable.
  • Another study examined the culturally significant implications of contraceptive and safe sex practices among rural Latinos of the Northwest U.S. The majority of clinicians and lay health workers interviewed concluded that openly discussing sex and sexuality is received with a lot of discomfort among rural Latinos. This factor deters them from actively seeking contraceptives or practicing safe-sex behavior. 


Poder Sano has three major components:

Community Mobilization Toolkit

Poder Sano has developed a Spanish-language train-the-trainer curriculum for individuals interested in training promotores de salud in HIV prevention. We are currently developing an additional module for the curriculum, focused on condom distribution, best practices and social media. Additional materials include Spanish-language fotonovelas with health messaging, informational handouts, and radio Public Service Announcements (PSAs).

All materials are available free of charge.  

Coalition Building for Rural HIV Prevention

Through webinars, conference presentations, regional trainings, and information-sharing sessions we are building a coalition of community based organizations, policy makers, faith communities, health departments and capacity building assistance providers. Together, we can fight the spread of HIV/AIDS in rural Latino communities.

To support these efforts, we have developed a directory of organizations working to promote health and prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS in rural Latino communities. If you would like to submit your organization to be included or update your organization's entry, please email us at [email protected].

Capacity Building Assistance

We provide culturally competent and linguistically appropriate capacity building assistance on community mobilization and promotores de salud strategies and approaches for high-risk rural Latino communities. We will provide learning opportunities in the form of regular webcasts and trainings.

As community partners of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Farmworker Justice has provided rural service providers with high quality trainings and individualized assistance on HIV prevention programs for over ten years. We have implemented successful promotores de salud initiatives with community-based partners across the U.S.  We will build on these successes to target an especially high-risk community, Latinos in rural settings, with community-based and community-focused strategies to mobilize underserved communities in the fight against HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted infections, and tuberculosis.

Free Technical Assistance Available

Through its funding by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Farmworker Justice is able to offer free technical and capacity building assistance to organizations working to prevent HIV/AIDS in rural Latino communities. Organizations can request assistance related to community mobilization efforts, trainings for promotores de salud, adapting HIV programs for farmworkers, monitoring and evaluating health programs, developing educational materials, strategies for engaging local media, etc.

To secure this free technical assistance, please contact [email protected] or call (202) 293-5420 and ask to speak to a member of the health team. We can answer any questions you may have, walk you through the process of submitting a formal request, and explain our services in more detail.

View Poder Sano Resources