She’s Been HIV Positive For Nearly 20 Years And Her Story Is Proof That Life Is Still Possible

There are hundreds of thousands of Latinxs living with HIV in the U.S. Alexa Rodriguez is one of them. The undocumented immigrant from El Salvador was 21 years old and living in Texas when she was diagnosed. It was a discovery that she tells FIERCE came as a complete shock. Particularly because the person who gave it to her was her boyfriend, whom she trusted. He had initiated the idea of forgoing condoms during sex, despite the fact he secretly knew of his own status.

Of the 1.1 million people living with HIV in the U.S., 220,000 are Latinx.

According to, more than a third of the Latino population diagnosed with HIV receive detection testing too late. Within a year of becoming diagnosed, their illness typically advances to AIDS.

Since her initial diagnosis in 1998, Rodriguez has managed to maintain her HIV status through a careful medical regiment. It’s a positive note that she had never imagined possible the day her test results came back positive.

“The first thing [I thought when I was diagnosed] was ‘dead,’” Rodriguez says. “I mean, I had no information about it. I felt betrayed by the person I loved.”

For Rodriguez, the news was so shocking and devastating that she decided to return to her home country of El Salvador so she could prepare for her death.

Twenty-years later, however, she’s back in the U.S. and living her life to the fullest.

Fear, discrimination and societal stigmas surrounding the virus can increase the likelihood of being infected with or transmitting HIV.

Studies have revealed that people who suspect they have HIV, or who have been diagnosed with it, will often avoid seeking treatment, counseling and further testing out of fear of having their status found out. Undocumented Latinxs are also less likely to seek treatment because of concerns related to arrest and deportation.

For Rodriguez, these fears became magnified the moment she received her diagnosis. She admits that she left the clinic as soon as she learned about her status, and didn’t wait to hear about treatment because she didn’t want her friends, who were waiting for her, to suspect anything.

Those fears were heightened once again years later, in 2009, when she chose to return to the U.S. while seeking asylum from police officers and gang members who had abused her.

Fortunately, many Latinas living in the U.S with HIV or AIDS have stories that have not been marked with a tragic ending.

Almost twenty years have passed since AIDS was declared as a “severe and ongoing health crisis” in the Latino community. For years after the virus’s discovery in 1981, medical experts and researchers viewed it as a death sentence. Thanks to medical advancements, these days a person with HIV can live a lifespan similar to an average, non-infected individual.

This is certainly the case for Rodriguez, who has come to view her life and story as one worth sharing. These days, she uses her experience as a trans woman living with HIV for two decades to work as an HIV counselor and to advocate for trans women with the Trans Latin@ Coalition. In 2012 she was granted a green card, and this month she’ll fill out her application for U.S. citizenship. Her HIV status can no longer legally affect her citizenship.

She admits the process of coming to terms with her diagnosis was possible because of the many people she saw living with HIV and thriving. For her, perseverance has been essential to survival.

“There is a hope. There is a second chance to live,” she says. “Find someone in your community, someone you trust. Don’t suffer in silence.”

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Jada Pinkett Smith’s Mom Tells Her She Had Non-Consensual Sex with Star’s Dad


Jada Pinkett Smith’s Mom Tells Her She Had Non-Consensual Sex with Star’s Dad

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*Trigger Warning: this piece discusses domestic violence and rape and may be upsetting for some.*

If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual abuse, text or call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at1-800-656-4673. Or do an online chat.

Rape by a spouse or a partner is an act of physical violence that is often overlooked and under talked about. While there’s been a growth in international attention regarding marital rape it is often widely considered a “gray area” subject even in the many countries where it is illegal. Actress Jada Pinkett Smith learned a hard truth about marital rape affected her parents’ marriage this week in an exclusive clip on the Red Table Talk. Speaking with her mother, Adrienne Banfield-Norris, and her daughter Willow Smith, the actress spoke about non-consensual sex with partners.

In the latest episode of “The Red Table Talk,” Adrienne Banfield-Norris revealed that she had been raped in her marriage to Pinkett Smith’s father.

“So, Gam, you feel like nowhere in your history in regards to sexual intimacy have you felt like you had a sexual experience that was not necessarily consensual,” Pinkett Smith noted.

Banfield-Norris admitted “I have, I have, but it was also with my husband. Your dad, actually… So that’s really gray.”

Taking a moment to process, Pinkett Smith paused and that asked her mother to clarify “You’re basically saying you had non-consensual sex with my father,” she replied to her mother.

Banfield-Norris has noted how she became pregnant with Pinkett Smith in high school and married the actress’s father, Robsol Pinkett Jr soon after. After several months of marriage, the two divorced. In 2018, Pinkett Smith revealed in another episode of Red Table Talk that her mother had endured domestic violence from Robsol.

“I knew that my mother and my father had a very violent relationship early on,” Pinkett Smith explained. “She has a couple scars on her body that, as a child, I was just curious. I was like, ‘Oh, Mommy, what’s that? What’s that?’ … This will be the first time that Willow’s actually heard these stories about her grandfather who she knew.”

At the time, the three women talked about a scar on Banfield-Norris’s back which she received when Pinkett Smith’s father threw her over a banister.

“Not to make this like an excuse … but he was typically in an altered state when he was abusive like that,” Banfield-Norris said. “He was typically drunk… “I think women stay because they think that they’re in love. That’s what it was for me. I thought that it was love.”

Red Table Talk airs Tuesdays at 9 a.m. PT/12 p.m. ET on Facebook Watch.

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Xavier Becerra Will Not Prosecute Women Getting Abortions If Roe V Wade Is Overturned


Xavier Becerra Will Not Prosecute Women Getting Abortions If Roe V Wade Is Overturned

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Americans are closely watching the confirmation hearing of Amy Coney Barrett. The judge has made it clear that she is not in favor of marriage equality, access to abortion, and the right to affordable and life-saving healthcare. California’s attorney general has pledged not to prosecute women for abortions if Roe V. Wade is overturned.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra is standing with women and their right to choose.

AG Becerra was a congressman representing California wen President Donald Trump won the 2016 election. Former California Gov. Jerry Brown called on AG Becerra to leave Congress and come back to California as the attorney general. The move was a clear response to President Trump’s victory and a show that California was gearing up for years of legal battles against the administration.

Politicians and activists are sounding the alarm of Barrett’s alleged willingness to overturn Roe V. Wade.

The Supreme Court secured the future for women when they made the decision on Roe V. Wade. Suddenly, women have safe access to abortions. It closed a dark chapter in American history when women died from botched back alley abortions. Since the decision was made, the GOP has fought for years on local, state, and national levels to reverse the decision and strip women of their healthcare rights.

Concerned citizens are begging for government officials to do something to protect abortion rights.

If Roe V. Wade is overturned, the decisions to allow abortions will be left up to the states. This would negatively impact millions of women who are already struggling to access necessary healthcare in GOP-led states. States like Louisiana and Texas have made it increasingly difficult for women to access abortions in the state.

Americans do support Roe V. Wade.

Sixty-six percent of American adults do not support overturning Roe V. Wade. The decision has had a very real and important impact on the lives of women in the U.S. After decades of dangerous and fatal botched abortions in the U.S., the Supreme Court decision gave women a chance to get safe abortions. The decision afforded women a chance to have control of their futures.

People are grateful to see AG Becerra’s statement on Roe V. Wade.

Abortion is something more and more Latinos have come around too, according to some studies. According to the Latina Institute, a majority of Latinos are in favor of women having the right to choose what is best for them.

What are your thoughts about Roe V. Wade? Let us know.

READ: Latinas Raged Outside Of The Supreme Court To Fight Back At Recent Abortion Bans That Are Unconstitutional

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