I’m not sure about you, but I don’t remember growing up ever talking about HIV with my family. Not one single conversation happened in my household around this subject, and believe me there were plenty of conversations happening, but none focused on the virus. I may have heard the term here and there, but no one ever sat me down and explained what it was or how I could get infected.
As an adult I have come to realize the importance of talking openly about HIV/AIDS, so why weren’t my parents and grandparents telling me all this information? Simple, HIV/AIDS is seen as a taboo subject among the Latino community. I can guarantee not a lot of abuelitas were talking to their grandchildren about this subject growing up. Our culture is very reserved about topics like sex, and sexually transmitted diseases. What we don’t realize as a culture, as parents and grandparents, is how important talking about this virus really is.
More than 1.2 million people in the US are living with HIV, that alone is an alarming number. Worse yet, 1 in 8 of those individuals don’t know that they are living with the virus! Unfortunately, the numbers do not get better for Latinos. In 2014 we represented 17% of the nation’s population, yet we accounted for 24% of HIV diagnoses.
We need to wake up mi gente; it’s time to start talking! At times talking about HIV can be uncomfortable, especially if you never had this conversation with your family before, but it must be done. Every member of your family can be at risk of HIV and gaining the courage to start the conversation can potentially save a life.
There are multiple resources available on how to start this conversation; the CDC’s one conversation campaign site is a great place to search! You can also find great resources both in English and Spanish on the CDC’s Stop HIV Together campaign site.
Our families, friends and community members are important to us, so let’s show them how important by starting to talk openly about this virus that can affect us all regardless of race, gender or sexual preference. Let’s work collectively to end the stigma and stop HIV together.