Using Sign Language, New Video Promotes HIV Testing for Youth of All Abilities

Senior Editor

Following up on National Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, the newest episode of Kikis with Louie, a groundbreaking LGBTQ video series produced by the nonprofit organization Advocates for Youth, features an instructional video on how and where to easily get tested for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. And the video is presented in American Sign Language to ensure that deaf viewers also have access to the critical information.

This latest "how-to" video joins previous instructional videos the series has produced, including how to survive police encounters and safely date online. The new video builds on the organization's advocacy work around HIV awareness and education, led by their first-of-its-kind council of youth activists living with HIV, dubbed ECHO (short for Engaging Communities around HIV Organizing).

Young people are particularly vulnerable to HIV in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 21% of new HIV diagnoses in 2017 were in people aged 13 to 24. The same year, only 9% of all high school students were tested for HIV, and only 15% of all young cisgender men in high school who have had sex with men were tested. Once diagnosed with HIV, young people are least likely of all groups to remain in care and on antiretroviral therapy. However, HIV-negative youth struggle with pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) adherence, the CDC says.

TheBody's Daisy Becerra recently interviewed Louie Ortiz-Fonseca, the director of LGBTQ health and rights at Advocates for Youth and the host of Kikis with Louie, about his work to bring more youth into conversation with each other -- and their elders -- through digital media.