Advertisement
The Body: The Complete HIV/AIDS Resource Follow Us Follow Us on Facebook Follow Us on Twitter Download Our App
Professionals >> Visit The Body PROThe Body en Espanol

Viva Mi Gente!: 12 Latino Celebrities and Characters Who Thrust HIV/AIDS Into Popular Culture

May 15, 2013

 11/12 

Ilka Tanya Payán

Ilka Tanya Payán

Ilka Tanya Payán started out as an actress in the Spanish-language telenovela Angelica, Mi Vida, and went on to bigger Hollywood roles such as a small part in Scarface and a guest role on the 1980s TV drama Hill Street Blues. Payán, of Dominican ancestry, also worked hard to encourage New York's Latino theater community, founding the Hispanic Organization of Latin Actresses (HOLA). Payán studied law and became an attorney in 1981. Around her time in law school, she acquired HIV from a former lover, though she did not test positive until 1986.

Payán disclosed her status in 1993, prompted by the death of singer Héctor Lavoe. As one of the first Latino celebrities to disclose her status, she rocked the Latino community at a time when many Latinos saw HIV/AIDS as a disease that only affected gay men, sex workers and drug users. Fighting that stereotype became Payán's new mission in life. On Dec. 10, 1993, she was chosen to be the featured speaker at the United Nations panel for World AIDS Day, and Payán was given the Medal of Honor in recognition of her activism by Dominican president Joaquín Balaguer. She appeared on the cover of POZ magazine in August 1995. She worked in the legal department at Gay Men's Health Crisis up until her death on April 6, 1996.




Related Stories

13 Moments in Black Celebrity Activism
History's Biggest HIV-Positive Celebrities
More on Celebrities and HIV/AIDS

This article was provided by TheBody.com.
 

Reader Comments:

Comment by: Miguel (El Centro Ca,) Sat., Jul. 12, 2014 at 10:57 am EDT
I am 52 years old and want to find a woman who is HIV positive. Recommend places to contact me. Thank you
Reply to this comment


Comment by: OhioMan (Alliance, Ohio) Wed., Jun. 19, 2013 at 11:20 am EDT
I recall Pedro quite well...I was living in Los Angeles at the time and HIV was so new and scary. Pedro was an Idol to us all and helped to explain this horrible illness...Thanks Pedro..
Reply to this comment


Comment by: Marta L. (richmond va) Sun., May. 26, 2013 at 12:23 am EDT
my soul can take it it is my body that fails me some times I am 63 years old and hope to live some more don't know how many more. I fell very happy and some times so sad is all part of the prossees . learn to take it one day at a time.
Reply to this comment


Add Your Comment:
(Please note: Your name and comment will be public, and may even show up in
Internet search results. Be careful when providing personal information! Before
adding your comment, please read TheBody.com's Comment Policy.)

Your Name:


Your Location:

(ex: San Francisco, CA)

Your Comment:

Characters remaining:

Advertisement