Post submitted by former Editorial Producer, Print and Digital Media Rokia Hassanein
To Omar Martinez, National Latinx AIDS Awareness Day is about uplifting the voices of Latinx activists and ensuring that Latinx people living with HIV and AIDS receive the best care possible moving forward while remembering Latinx people who died of HIV and AIDS.
“The way to move forward is to really tackle and address the structural issues,” Martinez, an assistant professor at Temple University’s School of Social Work, told HRC. “[This] includes discrimination, the anti-immigration rhetoric, structural racism, cultural imperalism and access and barriers to health care… I would argue that these are the major challenges.”
October 15 marks National Latinx AIDS Awareness Day — a day to raise awareness about how HIV and AIDS impact the Latinx community, educate the public on preventative measures and more. NLAAD’s theme this year is “living with HIV or not... we're fighting this together,” focusing on ending the stigma around the disease and helping to address HIV in the Latinx community.
This is immensely important because HIV stigma remains one of the biggest challenges for advocates who are fighting to end it.
As Martinez notes, there’s an intersectional societal stigma that impacts Latinx people living with HIV. Racism, discrimination, criminalization of HIV transmission in several states and the lack of access to care — especially for undocumented people — are all issues Latinx activists are working to address.
“We, as a community, must continue fighting these larger structures,” Martinez said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the Latinx community, HIV and AIDS predominantly affects men who are gay, bisexual or who have sex with other men. Between 2011 to 2015, HIV diagnoses increased 13% among Latinx gay and bisexual men.
Society still has a long way to go. Martinez hopes Latinx people living with HIV know that things are improving with research and social justice activism.
“We are all in this together,” he said.
HRC is committed to working with our allies, partners, members and supporters to end the HIV and AIDS epidemic and the stigma surrounding HIV and AIDS. Learn more about HRC’s work to end HIV and AIDS and its stigma here.