Let’s talk HIV/AIDS

A few months ago, I had the pleasure of attending the 2018 United States Conference on AIDS (USCA) in Orlando, Florida. After my participation in all 4 seasons of FLASNovelas, a web series that brings awareness to social issues like substance abuse, HIV, and domestic violence, I was invited to be part of a panel led by Kimmy Palacios from FLAS, Inc. on “How to Promote PrEP in the Latino Community.”

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Although my contribution was strictly media and artistic input regarding the project, I soon realized that a positive or negative HIV status is irrelevant to the call for action. HIV/AIDS is an issue that directly or indirectly impacts each and everyone of us. So, we should all Fight Back!

What is HIV/AIDS?

HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus, but unlike other viruses, HIV cannot be fully eliminated from the human body. So, once a person tests positive with the virus, the individual becomes a carrier for life.

HIV may be transmitted between humans through certain bodily fluids such as blood, semen, pre-seminal fluid, rectal fluids, vaginal fluids, and breast milk. Despite common misconceptions, HIV cannot be contracted via air, water, touching, saliva, sweat, tears, insect, pets, or sharing toilets, food/ drinks. However, if HIV is not diagnosed and properly treated, the virus may progress into the Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, AIDS. People are diagnosed with AIDS when their CD4 cell count drops below 200 cells/mm.

By definition, HIV/AIDS may sounds like a death sentence, but with the emergence of a combination of drugs called Antiretroviral Therapy (ART), the life expectancy of HIV patients increased. Nowadays, with proper treatment, “someone diagnosed with HIV and treated before the disease is far advanced can live nearly as long as someone who does not have HIV” (Center for Disease Control).

This medical condition still remains a taboo subject in today’s society, but it’s time we talk HIV/AIDS and eliminate the negative stigma!

Things to know:

  • Currently, there is no cure for HIV/AIDS
  • With proper and continuous treatment, a person with HIV can become undetectable and untransmittable (U=U)
  • There are prevention methods (Condoms, PrEP)
  • HIV/Aids does NOT only affect the homosexual community
  • The only way to know if you carry the virus is to GET TESTED!

What can we do?

  • Be proactive
  • Educate ourselves
  • Share our knowledge
  • Get tested regularly
  • Be an advocate for HIV Awareness (Check out De Cerca al VIH)
  • Support organizations near you

Check yourself. Know your status. Join the fight!

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Thanks for reading,

Gabby Salazar

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