Disclosure: This is a sponsored post in collaboration the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Social Lens Research, and Latinos in Tech Innovation and Social Media (LATISM). All opinions are my own.
Talking about safer sex can be very uncomfortable but we all need to do it. Admittedly, it didn’t feel comfortable for me to take the opportunity to host a dialogue about safer sex, HIV and AIDS on Que Means What because this is a ‘family-friendly’ blog. But thankfully, I quickly realized that BECAUSE QMW is a family-friendly blog, it is important to have this one conversation. Queridos, I hope you do the same with your loved ones. The first step to stopping HIV in the Hispanic/Latino community is talking about it so, last week I joined fellow Latino and Latina influencers on the #LATISM Twitter chat with special guests from the Center for Disease Control (@TalkHIV on Twitter).As social media influencers, we opened up a real conversation. People were tweeting their personal stories about being tested and WHY it was personally important to them to raise awareness about HIV.
So many people in our community still remain silent (ahem, pointing the finger at myself too). Research indicates that talking openly about HIV can be a simple but powerful way to eliminate some of the stigma, negative stereotypes, and shame that are too often associated with HIV within some segments of our community. These challenges prevent many from talking, getting tested, disclosing their HIV status, and seeking treatment.
HISPANICS/LATINOS IN THE U.S. AND HIV
The bottom line is that anyone sexually active can be at risk for infection regardless of age, sexual orientation or marital status. However, Hispanic/Latinos account for 21% of the estimated 1.2 million people living with HIV in the United States and 23% of new diagnoses of HIV infection.
Studies have found that many in the community do not talk about HIV risk, prevention, or testing. It is estimated that only about half (56%) of Hispanics/Latinos talked with friends or family about HIV in the past year. Even when Hispanics/Latinos are ready to discuss HIV, many do not have all the knowledge they need to have informed conversations with their family, friends or children.
And for our hermanitos/hermanitas, well, some of the highest STD rates are among youth aged 20 – 24, especially those of minority races and ethnicities. High schoolers are not protecting themselves as much as they should either. In a 2013 survey, of the 34% of high school students reporting sexual intercourse in the previous 3 months, 41% did not use a condom.*
How to begin a conversation family and friends about HIV?
Begin the conversation with your family and your friends. Be honest with yourself and with them. Have you been tested recently or in the past? Talk about it. It’s common practice for pregnant women to be tested for HIV by a doctor as soon as they know they are pregnant. Remember, anyone who is sexually active can be at risk for infection – anyone. So, let’s drop the shame game.
The One Conversation animated GIFs were created to model and normalize important conversations for Hispanics/Latinos to have around HIV prevention and safer sex. Share them online or in a private message to get started.
Sin Vergüenza (Without Shame) Telenovela
Sin Vergüenza (Without Shame) Telenovela web series confronts many difficult issues facing the Latino community. This story helped to open my eyes about WHY it’s important to have honest conversations with the ones you love.
Sin Vergüenza is a story about a modern Mexican-American family coping with issues around HIV and sexual health. Each family member represents a different age group, sexual orientation, and marital status and faces unique challenges. Each person is also at risk of getting HIV. This telenovela is produced by Los Angeles-based AltaMed Healthcare Services together with the CDC’s One Conversation at a Time, it encourages Hispanic/Latino families and friends to have meaningful conversations about HIV.
WATCH Sin Vergüenza below with people whom you love and start your #OneConversation.
We all have a role to play. We can stop HIV one conversation at a time. Together, all of our conversations can help protect the health of our community and reduce the spread of HIV. Join us in stopping HIV One Conversation at a Time.
Join the conversation on social media through Facebook (www.facebook.com/ActAgainstAIDS), Twitter (@TalkHIV, using the hashtag #OneConversation and/or #UnaConversación), and Instagram (http://Instagram.com/ActAgainstAIDS).