Stigma did not create AIDS. Yet it prepared the way and speeded its ravaging course through America and the world. First stigma delayed understanding of the disease: it’s a gay cancer, it’s a punishment from God, they brought it on themselves, so who cares? Then stigma delayed government action, research, and assistance for the sick and dying. Stigma made people afraid to get tested for HIV and treated. Stigma made people ashamed, isolating and alienating them from friends and family. Stigma cost people jobs, professional standing, housing, a seat on an airplane or in a dentist’s chair. Stigma made many afraid to live, and want to die. But then it began to make some brave people very angry and AIDS activism was born. The activists quickly realized that to end AIDS we must end stigma.
AIDS activism did more to fight the stigma on being gay or having AIDS than any other social force. In this way, AIDS activism, like the civil rights movement, became a great moral movement of our time, defending the innocent, restoring dignity to the violated, giving hope to the desperate, and reviving faith in the disillusioned. AIDS activism gave LGBT people courage, dignity, and power they had never held before. It inspired many to stand up and proudly proclaim who they are and who they love. Twenty-six of the world’s most advanced countries now recognize gay marriage and today a gay man openly married to another man is a prominent candidate for President of the United States.
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.
“When a person comes out to you, keep in mind that the person has not changed. The relationship you established with that person stays the same. It’s just another label, and there are layers and layers of labels that we all put on ourselves and that we give to each other. So when you learn this new information about somebody, does it really change the soul of the relationship? Are your feelings rich enough and deep enough that you established a relationship because you love this person? Or were your feelings so superficial that now that you’ve learned this element about this person, it’s enough to cause you concern? It’s a personal question that you have to ask yourself. If you love a person, if you’re friends with a person, if you cherish a person, then those labels shouldn’t matter.”
This was a time when people weren’t even touching patients with HIV,” says Priyanka Chopra, a prominent supporter of the film on behalf of the AIDS charity RED, which will receive 30 percent of all box office proceeds. “They would lay in their soiled bedsheets for days where nobody would come and even enter their room to feed them. At that time, these nurses chose to not think about whether they would live or die and actually the nobility of the profession is what you see in this movie.”
The film, which received a four-minute standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival last month, features the nurses of ward 5B at San Francisco General Hospital who didn’t allow societal ignorance, prejudice and fear curtail their drive to administer compassionate health care to patients who had otherwise been cast aside. These were patients who most health care professionals wouldn’t touch without wearing gloves, even a hazmat suit.
In 2017, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation partnered with researchers at the University of Connecticut to conduct a groundbreaking survey of over 12,000 LGBTQ youth and capture their experiences in their families, schools, social circles and communities. More than 1,600 Black and African American LGBTQ youth responded to the survey.
This resource presents data collected from these youth, shedding light on their challenges and triumphs encountered while navigating multiple, intersecting identities. This report utilizes the full sample (any respondent who answered more than 10 percent of the survey) and provides more detail than is captured in the 2018 Youth Report.