American actor Jai Rodriguez has teamed up with HIV campaign Positively Fearless to educate latinx people about the STI.
Positively Fearless focuses on ‘celebrating the bravery of black and hispanic homosexual and bisexual men, who are embracing their HIV status’, Rodriguez said.
‘HIV infection rates have gone down in the United States in the past ten years. But not in the Latinx community of men who identify as gay or bisexual,’ he added.
He spoke in an interview with People Chica about his personal connection to the cause.
‘I could’ve been a statistic’
‘When I was 16, my aunt died of AIDS, and my cousin passed away as well,’ Rodriguez explained. ‘My aunt became one of the first women on Long Island to have the disease. I watched that unfold during my high school years. My mom and I became the primary caretakers.
‘Long behold, two years later, I booked my first Broadway show, which was Rent. So then I’m playing an HIV positive character on Broadway for five years.
‘I could’ve been a statistic and granted that when I was coming up, I sadly got the firsthand experience of people passing, so it was a different experience for me.’
Rodriguez told of how when his aunt visited the dentist, the doctor put on three pairs of gloves.
‘She looked at me with tears in her eyes because she felt disgusting. She felt like he treated her like a piece of trash. I’ll always remember that moment.’