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

May 15, 2013


Pedro Zamora

Pedro Zamora

Undeniably the most influential person to come out of MTV's The Real World franchise, Pedro Zamora -- a gay, young Cuban-American man living with HIV -- was a member of the San Francisco-based cast of the fledgling series' third season. Unlike its current incarnation, The Real World at that time was actually about having people with different viewpoints come together and have discussions and arguments, not just make out in hot tubs after one too many martinis.

Zamora influenced an entire generation of gay people -- and HIV advocates of all genders -- by living as openly gay and openly HIV positive on national television. Many bloggers have recounted their experiences with the power of Zamora's visibility. He was an AIDS educator who chose to forgo a college education to inform the world about AIDS, and he accomplished just that. He lectured his cast-mates on HIV transmission and brought them to speaking gigs. Just prior to his death, Bill Clinton called Zamora to thank him for his service to Americans -- and Zamora gathered the strength to take the call, though he was on his deathbed. When MTV aired a biopic about Zamora in 2009, titled simply Pedro and written by Oscar-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black (Milk), Clinton introduced the film.

Zamora died in 1994 at age 22, the day after the season finale of The Real World: San Francisco aired, but his legacy is enduring and tangible.

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Reader Comments:

Comment by: Yaeger Fri., Jul. 31, 2015 at 12:11 am EDT
Oh my how things have really changed, that it has become almost fashionable to be hiv positive. I remember when the disease first came to be, and where I was when I heard about this unknown disease, where it seemed that many people were dying around me.Was I scared of course who was not. But as some people I knew were passing over with this disease I still went to see them in the hospitals as often as I could. I think they really appreciated that about me, that fear never stopped me from going to see my friends, and associates on the bus. Therefore, I treated them the way I would have wanted to have been treated. But I really thought by now there would be a cure for the disease.
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Comment by: Anonymous Sat., Jul. 11, 2015 at 8:19 am EDT
Hola me hize la prueba hace dos crmanas pero me comenzo el sangrado despues paro y ahora otra ves tengo un poco de dolor en la caders y un poco enfrente y me hago la prueba muchas veces mas y sale positiva no se que hacer
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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
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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..
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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.
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