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Interview

Didn't Attend USCA 2018? Here's What You Missed -- and Why You Should Attend Next Year

September 25, 2018

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#2018USCA Recap

Tiffany Marrero (Credit: Selfie by Tiffany Marrero) and Giuliani Alvarenga (Credit: Jens Bishop)


Just after the close of the U.S. Conference on AIDS (USCA) in Orlando, Florida, we held a Facebook Live to discuss some of the highlights from the conference, some of the people we met, and what it's like doing this work as two young HIV-positive activists of color. Watch the video or read the transcription of our conversation below.



Giuliani Alvarenga: Hi, welcome to TheBody. This is TheBody, and my name is Giuliani Alvarenga. I am from East L.A. I am a contributing writer for TheBody, and I am a social media ambassador.

Yes on 10, quick shout out to photo bomb this, but we need California to vote yes on 10 for rent control, because the rent is too damn high. OK.

So ...

Tiffany Marrero: Yes.

GA: So, we're here with Tiffany. We're going to be checking in and talking about the USCA conference that happened in Orlando, Florida. I'm going to be checking in about two highlights of the event, which were hard to pick. Because overall, it's just been an incredible conference. I had an amazing time meeting new people, getting to know Tiffany in person, who is spectacular and amazing, and just, so much, so much, motivation for me.

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You know, she's the first person that told me that the poz community doesn't fuck around. We are very, very tight. And I think that that's really important to fight the stigma. We have to be really, really close together.

And so for me, having seen some incredible people at the transgender luncheon was incredible. I saw Maria Roman. Shout out to her. She has been an incredible, incredible activist in Los Angeles for the trans Latinas, and shout out to Bamby Salcedo -- just incredible pioneers that have been able to create a safe space for people here in Hollywood and East LA, and a few other chapters in LA, itself. There's a lot of pockets. LA is just pretty big.

Also, I wanted to check in and talk about this young activist who is such a brave young man. He's from Honduras. And he was actually being investigated by his university. He was criminalized for being HIV positive. A student, a peer of his, reported him to the university, and he just had to face a terrible, terrible ordeal. And we're talking about someone who is first-gen migrant, came to this country at around 9-12 years old, first to go to college, first to even graduate high school. Has a scholarship, you know? Shout out to that. And just really, just, on his hustle.

And, you know, all just for this to in limbo, right? This fear that he could have lost so much because someone decided to report him. Someone decided to use this legal system and badger him with these policies that are going on, right? And so I really wanted to just check in, and give him a shout out.

Because one of the things that I really enjoyed about the conference was that he was there. I had a chance to interview him and talk to him. One of things that I really, really enjoyed about our conversation was that we both bonded over the #CentralAmericanTwitter, which is this social, virtual platform that has been going around now for a couple of years. And it's just been a community for us, you know?

We talk about the diversity behind our Central American heritage. There are just so many nuances there. We get to learn about each other's experiences, and just read up on our culture, and just continue to motivate each other and inspire ourselves.

He really just made it known that those were some of the platforms that kept him going. And I truly value out. So, shout out to folks on CentralAmericanTwitter who are watching right now. Thank you so much for creating this platform for us, to continue to motivate ourselves and just fight collectively, you know, against these systems of oppression.

And, speaking of systems of oppression, I do also want to just talk about some of the bureaucratic hoops. Me, personally, I went through something recently with my ADAP [AIDS Drug Assistance Program]. So, I do want to just talk about the fact that -- you know, give like a little shout out to the ADAP locator.

For those who don't know what ADAP is, -- so I'm just talking about California right now -- so that we can get support for our HIV meds, and for other medical services, you know? It should be on the little drop box there, the phone number to ADAP, and also the phone number to the South Carolina Services, for folks with HIV/AIDS, right? In case they need meds during this, during Hurricane Florence. You know, I hope everyone is safe, everyone is practicing the buddy system. Make sure that you just keep people aware of where you are and how you're doing.

So, I just wanted to do that, just throw that out there before I leave it to the amazing Tiffany.

TM: Aww. Well, first of all, I love, I love everything. Thank you.

Thank you for joining me on this. I love that USCA provided us the space to actually connect, right? Like, not just through our writing, but to meet face to face. And it's crazy. Because now when I read -- now, I went back, and I reread some of the content you have. And I think about -- now that I actually met you -- how impactful that was, just having to share a space with you. So, thank you for all the interviews you've done.

This is like your first -- you said this was your first USCA, right?

GA: It was. And can I just say, when I read your first article, too, from TheBody, I was really, really just hyped. I really wanted to meet you. I thought that you're an incredible person with agency, and it really inspired me.

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This article was provided by TheBody. It is a part of the publication 2018 U.S. Conference on AIDS.
 


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