TW/CW: This episode includes brief discussion of sexual violence and suicidal ideation.
Jahlove Serrano is a health educator, youth advocate, HIV/AIDS activist, androgynous model/runway coach, drag Queen, background dancer, and choreographer to the stars. He's a Guatemalan/American native of the Bronx, New York, and contracted HIV a couple of days shy of his 16th birthday. Upon diagnosis — and as he learned more about the experiences that led to diagnosis — he decided to take a leadership role in his community with the public admission of his HIV status. Working in the field of HIV/AIDS prevention, outreach, and research (on a local, national, and global scale), his mission is to combat the ignorance and stigma around HIV/AIDS and to address the needs of HIV-positive — and negative — youth. Jahlove has worked with NY AIDS Institute, National Gay Mens Advocacy Coalition, The Global Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS North America (GNP+NA), AIDS ALLIANCES, The White House, and The Department of Health. He's currently featured in NYC’s Care campaign, the national HIV Stops With Me campaign, and globally in Janssen’s Positively Fearless campaign. Jahlove uses his entertainment platform to promote HIV/AIDS awareness and education throughout the United States and beyond. And…he’s both insightful and open, while maintaining a joy and positivity we can ALL connect to.
Tune in as Jahlove shares:
- that Sex Ed when he was a teen was entirely hetero-focused, and as such, excluded him from the conversation
- that he contracted HIV when he lost his virginity at the age of 16, and later recognized the incident was rape
- that his mother kicked him out of the house and he was rendered homeless not long after
- that according to NYS law, any individual 13 years of age or older can get privately tested for any STD and pregnancy — and get treatment — as long as they give consent to their healthcare providers
- that there are actually two different strains of HIV
- that in the US, HIV/AIDS is primarily contracted by men who have sexual contact with other men; but that globally, HIV/AIDS is primarily a disease contracted by individuals engaging in heterosexual sex
- that his diagnosis inspired him to go back to high school, get into college, and begin to pursue a career as a dancer and entertainer
- that it took years of ill health — and an AIDS and cancer diagnosis in 2008 — for him to confront his diagnosis and start taking his medication regularly
- why your health is your own responsibility
- that so much ignorance and stigma about HIV/AIDS still persists, and that he combats that in his work both as an educator and as an entertainer
- that he has found joy and resilience in his advocacy work — a joy and resilience that touches each of his intersectional identities as a Black gay HIV+ man living in America
- why the trans community is so important to him
- a background lesson in the early AIDS epidemic — and the role of medical racism, homo- and transphobia in early AIDS advocacy
- why his work in public policy is so important to him
- his commitment to make and hold space for the next generation of advocates
Transcript coming soon!
In the meantime, check out these other episodes featuring stories centered around experiences of living with HIV/AIDS: