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NMAC Welcomes Fernando de Hoyos
BY: FERNANDO DE HOYOS· NMAC · JANUARY 26, 2017

Hola! I’m Fernando de Hoyos. I joined NMAC in November as a Program Coordinator with the Treatment division. I’m excited to be implementing NMAC’s HIV 50+ Strong & Healthy program. The goal is to educate local service and care providers about the impact of aging among men and women of color living with HIV. The program will explore clinical information, stigma, mental health, sexual health and the overall quality of life and wellness of this group. Now is an important time to shine a light on the unique issues populations living with HIV face as they age.
 
I'm originally from Puerto Rico, where I tested positive for HIV on October 22, 1987. I was 22 years old at the time. I left my beloved island in 1989 to volunteer for HIV treatment clinical trials in New York City. While living there, I joined the community-at-large in Manhattan, which was united and committed to helping combat the devastation the epidemic was causing in the city. Everyone worked together to take care of each other. I've never seen so much beauty amidst so much chaos. I joined Act-Up New York to demand action from our government; Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC) to help in the efforts of awareness, prevention, and care; God's Love We Deliver to help feed the homebound with AIDS. By preparing to die, I learned how to live. Clinical trials saved my life and I found my vocation, passion, and life's purpose. Since then, I’ve dedicated my life to HIV research, education, prevention, and counseling. I love this quote from Gandhi: "The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others."
 

As we travel throughout the country, to New Orleans/Baton Rouge, South Florida, Charlotte, and DC/Maryland/Virginia, I want to express my sincere gratitude to the HIV 50+ communities, advocates, and service providers who are sharing their time and voices to enrich this project. I also want to thank the dedicated scholars who participated in the training of trainers at USCA for helping us launch the program and your fearless discussions about topics too many see as taboo. 

 
 

Before I go, I want to advocate for the use of People-First Language. People-first language puts the person before the illness or medical condition and describes what a person has, not who a person is. Using a diagnosis as a defining characteristic reflects prejudice and also robs the person of the opportunity to define themselves. We want to promote understanding, respect, and dignity for all people. 
 
Although misinformation and stigmatizing messages and language persist in our society, there are individuals and organizations like the Positive Women's Network and POZ Magazine, to name a few, who are working hard to change how we communicate about HIV and AIDS. Using appropriate language (see table below) can help reduce stigma and change the general opinion about people living with HIV. The more awareness we bring to the issue the more change we can make. We are people LIVING with HIV, not HIV-infected. 

Stigmatizing Preferred
HIV patient, AIDS patient Person living with HIV
Positives or HIVers
AIDS or HIV carrier
Died of AIDS, to die of AIDS Died of AIDS-related illness, AIDS-related complications or end stage HIV
AIDS virus HIV (AIDS is a diagnosis not a virus it cannot be transmitted)
Full-blown AIDS There is no medical definition for this phrase, simply use the term AIDS, or Stage 3 HIV.
HIV virus This is redundant use HIV
Victim, Innocent Victim, Sufferer Person living with HIV (never use the term “infected” when referring to a person)
Contaminated or infected
AIDS orphans Children orphaned by loss of parents or guardians who died of AIDS related complications
HIV infected mother Mother living with HIV
Mother to child transmission Vertical transmission, perinatal transmission
AIDS test HIV test
To catch AIDS
To contract AIDS
To catch HIV
An AIDS diagnosis, developed AIDS, to contract HIV
Compliant Adherent
Prostitute or prostitution Sex worker, sale of sexual services
Promiscuous This is a value judgment and should be avoided.  Use - Having multiple partners
Unprotected sex Condomless sex with PrEP, Condomless Sex without PrEP
Hasta pronto!

Fernando de Hoyos
(Pronouns: He, His, Him)
Treatment Coordinator


 
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NMAC leads with race to urgently fight for health equity and racial justice to end the HIV epidemic in America. 

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