To me, National Latinx HIV/AIDS Awareness Day means a day to bring some light to the darkness that has been overshadowing our Latinx community for decades.
A day where you can have some cafecito y chisme in the morning or afternoon with your comai or compai, and with your familia (both blood and chosen) to openly talk about why growing up, HIV was not spoken about and then dish out all the chisme on how to prevent it, how to live with it, and how not to talk shit if fulano or fulana has it, you know, ending el ESTIGMA. We no longer have to hide in the shadow or under the blanket like it was the cucuy. We sometimes see commercials about HIV, medications, and PrEP between our novelas orrr en el YOOTOO (YouTube) between “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom” or “Titi Me Pregunto.” Yet it’s still uncomfortable to talk about it with compañeros/as/es. Which is why NLHAAD was created; for people like me to talk openly about living with HIV, to encourage others to get tested, use condoms, get treatment, to get on PrEP, and/or PEP if needed. To show nuestra comunidad that echar bochinche about this day can actually help prevent it between ourselves.
It is also a day to show some love to those who have been en la lucha fighting y echandole ganas. To remember those who we have lost to HIV/AIDS and to embrace those who continue to be with us. A day where we celebrate each other regardless of our own status. A day to remember everyone in our barrios que SI SE PUEDE eliminar el SIDA!
Miliani Varela (She/They), Gran Varones Fellow
photographed by: gran varones