Things That Matter

We Need To Stop Beating Around The Bush When It Comes To This Disease Killing Latinos

October 15 is not only the last day of Hispanic Heritage Month, it’s also National Latinx AIDS Awareness Day. The Latinx community is disproportionately affected by HIV and AIDS and it’s time we work to bring that to an end. Here are five facts about HIV and AIDS in the Latinx community that you probably don’t know.

1. A large percentage of Latinxs are affected by HIV and AIDS.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Latinxs made up just about 17 percent of the U.S. population in 2014. However, Latinxs accounted for 24 percent of new HIV and AIDS cases diagnosed in 2014. In numbers, out of 44,784 new HIV and AIDS cases reported in 2014, Latinxs made up 10,887.

2. Young (ages 13 to 24) Latino gay and bisexual men are the most impacted group.

The same report from the CDC says that there has been an 87 percent increase in HIV and AIDS cases reported between 2005 and 2014 (2010 to 2014 saw only a 16 percent increase in new HIV and AIDS cases). Latino men are three times more likely than white men to contract HIV or AIDS. During the same time of 2005 to 2014, Latinas have seen a 35 percent decline in new cases of HIV and AIDS.

3. Machismo is partially to blame for the spread of HIV and AIDS in the Latinx community.

Animation Domination High-Def / GIPHY
CREDIT: Animation Domination High-Def / GIPHY

According to a different study by the CDC, the cultural stigma of homosexuality and being HIV positive can help the spread of HIV and AIDS in the Latinx community. A fear of coming out to family and opening up about risky behavior can drive young LGBTQ Latinx people from seeking treatment or getting tested. The same machismo culture can lead to Latinx men not seeking out way o decrease their risk of contracting HIV, like Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP).

4. The Latinx community has a higher rate of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) than normal.

Yo Meryl / GIPHY
CREDIT: Yo Meryl / GIPHY

The CDC has found that the rate of STDs in the Latinx community is higher than in most races and ethnicities. The same report also finds that having an STD increases a person’s chance of contracting HIV.

5. Men make up 86 percent of all HIV and AIDS cases in the Latinx community.

Animation Domination High-Def / GIPHY
CREDIT: Animation Domination High-Def / GIPHY

It’s time to end the stigma of HIV and LGBTQ in the Latinx community. The more open we are, the better we can make better choices to keep each other safe.

Yo Meryl / GIPHY
CREDIT: Yo Meryl / GIPHY

If you have recently been diagnosed with HIV or AIDS and don’t know what to do, click here to find your state’s HIV and AIDS hotline. You can also call the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 for help.

READ: New York Just Sent The Most Awkward Gift To Puerto Rico, But It’s Actually A Good Thing

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How This Latina-Created Club Is Helping Women Feel Safe And Confident On Hiking Trails

Fierce

How This Latina-Created Club Is Helping Women Feel Safe And Confident On Hiking Trails

Growing up in a Guatemalan-African American home in Woodbridge, Virginia, Evelynn Escobar-Thomas didn’t feel like outdoor activities were always accessible to her. After a few summer trips to Los Angeles, where she hiked regularly with her aunt, she realized that she enjoyed nature.

However, with little representation of women of color on trails in mainstream media or in the real world, she often felt excluded from the outdoor recreations she took so much pleasure in.

Evelynn Escobar-Thomas

Hoping to create a safe, fun space that could encourage more women like her to bask in the natural environments around them, she created Hike Clerb.

Founded in 2017, Hike Clerb is an intersectional women’s hiking club and nonprofit aimed at creating experiences in the outdoors that are accessible, empowering and inclusive. While primarily located in Los Angeles, where Escobar-Thomas relocated partly because of its biodiversity, the collective is international, with members as far as South Africa and the United Kingdom. Although predominantly consisting of women of color, the collective is open to anyone who shares the group’s vision and mission.

“There’s a huge sense of community and empowerment because we are out there as a collective of women of different shapes, sizes and colors,” the 29-year-old social activist tells FIERCE. “Women of all walks of life come together to honor ourselves, our bodies and our own individual healing journeys through this radical community.”

In Los Angeles, Hike Clerb hosts monthly treks in areas that are easy to commute to and are capable of being completed by veteran and newbie hikers alike. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, these regular in-person trudges, which could include crowds of 10 to 100 people, have mostly been put on pause. However, the group did link up once in June for a protest hike in support of Assembly Bill 345, legislation that would have created environmental protections for communities living near oil and gas operations in California that failed to pass.

“We met up for a hike protest in support of this bill and had signs and information on how others can get involved,” Escobar-Thomas says.


With social distancing mandates in place, the group has focused on new ways to create community. For instance, Hike Clerb posts monthly challenges that encourage followers to hike on specific days and photograph themselves in an effort to establish a sense of togetherness even though they are all physically apart. Additionally, Escobar-Thomas has been using social media to educate users on hiking etiquette, safety tips as well as on the racist history of public spaces like U.S. parks, trails and beaches.

“Let’s be real here: these spaces, although outdoors, which you would think by default are open to anyone, were made for white people. And to take it back a step even further, they exist on stolen land,” Escobar-Thomas says. 

On Instagram, Hike Clerb has posted educational materials that inform followers about this history. There’s the Yosemite National Park, which was founded on the displacement of the Ahwahneechee people who were later used as entertainment for white visitors, as well as the Grandstaff Canyon, which up until 2017 was called “Negro Bill Canyon” after the mixed-race Black rancher who once resided near the area, among many other examples. Even more, Hike Clerb also shares how beaches were once segregated, with Black communities often limited to remote shores that were polluted and in hazardous locations.

“The way that these idyllic structures and spaces have formed were already on a foundation of violence and exclusion, so it’s not hard to see the connection from the way that these places were formed to the way that we participate and consume them now,” Escobar-Thomas adds.

Among their group treks, it’s not uncommon for the women behind Hike Clerb to hear racial microaggressions. “Hiking Helens,” what Escobar-Thomas calls the disgruntled white women who take issue with large groups of Black and brown people taking up space outdoors, have confronted members about their so-called “urban group.” Other times, these women have accused the collective of obstructing their communities after wrongfully assuming members parked in their neighborhoods.

“You hear these little microaggressions, and it’s like no, we deserve to take up space out here just as much as anyone else, and this is why we are doing what we are doing,” she says. “The outdoors are not just this playground for white people. We should all feel equally entitled to it.”

Despite these occurrences, Escobar-Thomas says that creating hiking experiences has overall been healing and empowering for the women who participate in them. For some, it has even been a catalyst for them to start their own individual journeys with the outdoors, with many taking solo road trips and hiking at larger parks across the Southwest.

For Escobar-Thomas, that’s exactly what Hike Clerb is about: giving women, especially those of color, the resources, education, safety tips and confidence to claim space in environments they had previously felt fearful of or excluded from and to help facilitate those experiences.

“I just really want Hike Clerb to become this destination and resource for women of color, and anyone else who is aligned in our mission, to make the outdoors more representative of the world that we live in,” she says.

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Temporary Quarantine Things We Want To Stick Around Even After The Pandemic Is Over

Fierce

Temporary Quarantine Things We Want To Stick Around Even After The Pandemic Is Over

Joe Raedle / Getty

Oh, quarantine. The not so sweet but absolutely necessary measure we all must take during the pandemic to stay healthy and alive. Sounds pretty drastic and dramatic but fortunately, the time in self-isolation means that we’ve experienced some pretty fantastically dramatic switch-ups. From work from home days to on the go cocktails, for many of us, there’s a lot to like about quarantine measures.

Recently, we asked our FIERCE readers what they’d like to hold onto about quarantine when it’s all over.

Check out the answers below!

“Not paying rent.” – yungkundalini

“Masks when you are sick.” – glam_dam

“Supporting small businesses! I can’t stress enough how many people have suddenly started coming out to keep their local businesses and mom and pop shops running. This should be a thing whether there is a pandemic or not! Keep your community strong, protect your local elotero, and give the big corporations a run for their money!!!” – itslinamarie

“Ppl staying 6ft away from me.” – _mrssuave__

“Flex working. No longer an excuse that employees must be in the office.” – mixtapemcgee

Cocktails to go.

“Curbside pickup being regularly available.” –melchini

“All of it!! I feel at peace with people not getting close, knowing mugrosos are washing their hands and being covered in sanitizer, not crowding restaurants and spaces, supporting small businesses, I just feel like so much greatness has come from this but maybe I’m just a glass half full person.” –pinatapink

Work from home options.

“To go cocktails.” –elizar

“Work from home at least 2-5 days/week.” – m_lc88

“Prioritizing wellbeing over work.” –srios21

“Not paying student loans.” – senoritasenorita_

“I wouldn’t mind wearing a mask forever, especially during flu season. But mostly because it hides my RBF really nicely.”- mellowpaloma

“Washing your hands.” – mbhearts20

Giving people space.

“6 ft apart rule should never leave! Especially those don’t know about personal space.” –artkidshirley

“Masks if you are sick or utilizing public transportation or crowded places. I lived in South Korea and I like how normalized it is there to wear it in public places. I think this will help most of us stay away from other people’s kuddies when we are out and about.
Definitely wearing it in the airplane. More often than not I get some sort of cold after traveling.” – haveacupofjohanny

“No middle seats on airplanes.” –lcamargo.g

“More patio dining and employers not discouraging sick days.” – carolcontra

Virtual doctor appointments.

“Virtual telehealth appointments.” –fiona_theresita

“Pretty much all of the above as well as the grocery workers cleaning the carts and handing them to you as you walk up. I LOVE THAT. I hope that stays forever!” –lindafairall

“Hand sanitizer every where!” –jeann0m0

“Spending time at home with your loved ones.” –queenmetal

“Drive by parties … drop a present pick up a plate. A gift from god for the antisocial socialites.” –bobbibrittani

“Some of the cleaning guidelines that probably should have been in place to begin with.” –julezz__o9

“More outside space at restaurants and bars, to go drinks, and 6ft apart 💯 ! Readily available hand sanitizers is chill too.” –pietrememories

Hand washing.

“Frequent washing of hands… because I have no idea what these cochinos were doing prior to this.”- xippallipina

“Cleaning items you just bought before putting them away.” –lia028_ava

“Staying home when ill. Rest. Ppl not crowding my space. Strange men not speaking to me.” –ayequemuchacha

No interest on student loans.

“No interest on student loans. I’ve been able to reduce my loan by so much without the interest!.” –bdlr_jp

“People giving me my personal spaces. Pls stay 6ft away from now on.” –natrdgez

“Working from home and people not shaking my hand lol I’ve always hated shaking hands.” –victorria_p

“People being grateful for their family, health, and what they have around them in this moment!” – liv3.so.angie

Masks.

“Masks when people are sick.” –tricia.adriii

“Masked food handlers and when your sick.” –fancyfaceaz

“People actually washing their hands.” –marilynscarlet

“The checkout line social distancing system! Not having a creep breathe down your neck in line is amazing.” –susanabenavidezkoppelman

“To go drinks at restaurants.” –lizbit3

Alone time.

“Solitude.” – zoiladarton

“Contactless delivery and curbside pickup.” – fiona_theresita

“Masks!!” –jazzberrykush

“Supporting small business, drive by parties, cocktails to go, personal space.” – oclucylu

“Sanitizers and masks.” –bethanias.gonzalez

“Hazard pay for jobs that ARE hazard pay everyday! PAID sick time off these companies ain’t shit tbh.” –gvbelladonna89

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