When I learned that the 2017 National Latinx AIDS Awareness Day theme was “To Defeat HIV You’re a Superhero. Use Your Superpowers.” I fired up my Mac, cracked my knuckles, and got to work because, as a librarian, my innate superpower is “Research.”
First things first, if you need a quick, non-judgmental run-down explaining the difference between Hispanic, Latino, and Latinx, go here. Also, if you ever wondered why Hispanic Heritage Month runs from September 15 through October 15, rather than just being all of either month, I got you.
Now that that’s out of the way (you’re welcome), brass tacks.
Since the beginning of the epidemic, approximately 129,295 Latinxs have died from AIDS. By the end of 2014, there were 123,897 Latinxs living with an AIDS diagnosis. This is shocking because, well, it just is, but also because, although Latinxs only represent 18% of the US population, they accounted for almost 1 in 4 (24%) of new infections among adults and adolescents in 2015. (source)
What is going on with mi gente? We could blame machismo, the relationship between religion and sexuality in Latinx communities, and on and on with other cultural issues, but why spin ourselves into butter? #IMHO, ACT UP identified the root of the problem decades ago: Silence = Death.
Back when I was an active member of ACT UP/NY (before moving to San Francisco and before Instagram, let alone SnapChat, was even a thing), I helped found ACT UP/DAWG (the Digital Activism Working Group) where we organized Twitter bombings and pushed out demonstration videos, thinking that we were so avant-garde.
While that work seems quaint to me now, years later, so much of the great and tough work of HIV/AIDS prevention and education is still being done in the social/digital sphere and, when you boil it down, isn’t that just talking to one another?
Why the incidence rate among people who look and sound and love like me is so high in this country is beyond my comprehension, but I do know that shutting up about it is not going to help matters. That being the case, in addition to “research” I’m going to add “my voice” to my list of superpowers. (You know, that and pruning.) Why not add your voice to your list?
Go ahead! Grab a cape, your keyboard or your screen or megaphone, and join me, why dontcha? After all, like NLAAD said, it’s going to take a Team to Defeat HIV/AIDS.