A National Youth HIV and AIDS Awareness Day (NYHAAD) event was hosted by Campus Pride on April 10, via Instagram Live. This day has been observed by the Minority HIV/AIDS Fund (MHAF), the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Advocates for Youth and other organizations. Many initiatives have stemmed from NYHAAD, including the CDC’s “Stop HIV Together” campaign. This is the same campaign Mario Campos serves as an ambassador. Originally hailing from El Salvador, Campos has been developing projects concerning HIV and LGBTQ justice in both North and South America. He was also awarded “Young Influencer El Salvador 2020” by the nation’s President Nayib Bukele.
Campos agreed to speak for Campus Pride on NYHAAD as somewhat of a youth specialist in HIV prevention. Of his involvement with this area of activism, Campos said, “During half of my life I have been a volunteer in different initiatives. I saw the need to talk more about HIV, because many young people were unaware of the information, had many taboos and [they] were taking actions that made them vulnerable to HIV.”
Education is one of the main tenets Campos has utilized to accomplish all that he has to date. “Then, in 2017, when I was crowned Miss Gay El Salvador,” Campos recalled, “I carried out different prevention projects for the LGTBI community and worked together with an organization to provide emotional support to newly diagnosed people.”
Campos confirmed that many of his loved ones have been affected by HIV; making it an increasingly personal passion project of his.
Another facet of Campos’ career is the El Salvadoran government and their involvement in legislation surrounding the LGBTQ community. This convergent approach was appreciated by Campus Pride and the CDC as they imagined the Instagram Live event as an opportunity for people of all ethnicities, races, and LGBTQ identities to see themselves reflected in leadership.
“The legislative initiative was presented to Congress to demand decent work with fair wages and to create institutional policies free of discrimination at work.” Campos emphasized. “We have the support of the Minister of the Integration Secretary (former First Lady of the Republic) who began to integrate trans people into jobs within the government. The impact achieved was remarkable. Many institutions changed part of their hiring regulations. In these past electoral elections we had openly [gay] candidates, who were very well supported.”
The CDC and Campus Pride have encouraged participants to volunteer for events “Stop HIV Together” Ambassadors are producing. They also encourage everyone to share NYHAAD’s messages on social media, so HIV/AIDS support, prevention and diagnoses may be discussed.
To LGBTQ and allied youth, Campos says: “I want you to know the [LGBTQI] community is synonymous with power. Dreams, goals and purposes can be achieved. I have only been living in this country for three years. With my effort and perseverance I have managed to be a representative of the Latin voice on different important platforms. The collaboration of the entire community is essential to achieve work[ing] goals.”
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