EXCLUSIVE: Henry Santos Talks Latinos & the Stigma Surrounding HIV

Henry Santos attends People En Espanol's 50 Most Beautiful 2013
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Mi gente, it's time to raise HIV awareness and decrease the stigma in our community!

According to the CDC, Latinos make up 16 percent of the U.S. population and account for 21 percent of new HIV infections each year.

On August 27, the CDC launched "We Can Stop HIV One Conversation at a Time," a new national, bilingual campaign targeted at the Latino community. The campaign is aimed at encouraging Latinos to talk openly about HIV with their family and friends.

Henry Santos, who attended an HIV awareness event in NYC sponsored by Tr3s and the CDC earlier this month, has partnered with the CDC to reach the millions of Latinos across the U.S. and get them to talk more openly about the risk of HIV, preventing the disease, and the importance of testing. We connected with the bachata singer to talk about his involvement with the campaign, the stigma surrounding HIV in the Latino community, and more.

Check it all out in our exclusive interview below:

You’re currently the spokesman for the “We Can Stop HIV One Conversation at a Time” campaign, you’ve also worked with the Latino Commission on AIDS and you walked in the AIDS walk, what makes this cause so important to you?

Well there are many factors for why I decided to be involved with this. My cousin was diagnosed with HIV about 12 years ago and it was really scary for the whole family because it’s like until you go through something yourself, people tend to, in general, think it’s not going to happen to them. Then when it hits home, you basically have to start learning everything about the disease and how to deal with it. It was pretty scary early on, but my cousin’s still alive and he has been taking care of himself and he pretty much has been living a normal life after that. But at the beginning it was really almost like disorienting for everyone not being knowledgeable about the disease, so I educated myself on the subject and learned about all of the steps and all that.

So this is something that is very important because we tend to not talk about things, especially because we think it’s taboo including sex and parents and the communication between parents and kids. They don’t want to talk about absolutely everything sometimes. I have no problem talking about anything. I think Latinos, we really need to learn and educate ourselves and be a little more open on the subject, because like the campaign says, one conversation at a time saves lives.

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