AltaMed and The Rainbow Pride Center celebrated national transgender HIV awareness day by handing out HIV test kits.
By Kenya Harris, staff writer
The Rainbow Pride Center hosted an HIV awareness and prevention event on April 18, just in time for National Trans HIV Awareness Day.
According to the CDC, transgender people make up 2 percent of new HIV diagnosis. The purpose of the event was to raise awareness about HIV and HIV Testing, and to destigmatize the process. The Rainbow Pride Center provides many services to Monarchs including academic counseling and LGBTQIA+ friendly events to the campus community.
“The Rainbow Pride Center is here to support all identities,” said Natalie Guerrero, the head counselor and coordinator of the Rainbow Pride Center.
The event featured support from another organization who advocate for HIV awareness among the Latino population. The clinic AltaMed had two employees on hand to provide free HIV Testing kits to students and advertise their services. AltaMed clinic is located in East Los Angeles and especially focused on serving the Latino population. According to a 2019 CDC statement, Latinos account for an estimated 18 percent of the US population, but 25 percent of those living in the US with HIV.
As a particularly vulnerable community, services that focus on the Latin X and trans population are more readily available than most people are aware. AltaMed also has support groups and programs for up to 18 year olds and support groups for HIV positive adults. On the day of the event, AltaMed was also offering a $20 gift card for those who took home an HIV testing kit.
The table for the Rainbow Pride Center was right in front of a display of the Trans flags with famous Trans Americans like activist Marsha P Johnson, actor Eliot Page, actress Michaela J Rodgriguez, and writer and GLAAD media award recipient Alok Vaid Mennon. Everyone who stopped by was able to quickly find someone to interact with whether they be from AltaMed or the Rainbow Pride Center. A big part of this event was the combined presence of organizations that serve the trans, Latino, and student communities.
The HIV testing kits provided on that day were successfully given out and many Monarchs were informed about AltaMed and their services. Support and information for students was available for all students without needing to disclose their identity.
Through this event, the mental and physical health of the LGBTQIA+ campus community is shown to be important to the staff and counselors at Valley. Guerrero was present, passing out her contact info as well as Student Mental Health Education Coordinator Evelyn Pichardo. There will be additional Rainbow Pride Center events coming up this month and next for all LGBTQIA+ students and staff.
“There is a stigma with not being out or questioning,”said Guerrero. “The Rainbow Pride Center is here to support all identities, and we are not here to force or shame anyone into coming out; it is a very personal matter.”