National Hispanic Heritage Month: Honoring Our Latinx Community Partners

From September 15 until National Latinx HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NLHAAD) on October 15, it is Hispanic Heritage Month. In 2020, we honored our community partners and culminated in a conversation for NLHAAD with Carlitos Díaz, HIV Justice Community Organizer, from QLatinx.

Darriyhan Edmond headshot with H-I-V advoacate

Stigma is the number one killer in the Latinx Communities. – Ms. Elia Chino, Founder/Executive Director of FLAS, Inc.

A Michoacán-born immigrant, Elia Chinó has called Houston home for over 33 years. During that time she has forged a reputation as a determined health and wellness advocate who works tirelessly to educate people about preventable diseases, behavioral health and mental illness. After losing many close friends to HIV/AIDS, Elia Chinó decided to take action. The result of her desire to help end the devastation wrought by this disease in the Latino community was the founding of the Fundación Latinoamericana de Acción Social, Inc. (FLAS). Ms. Chinó is a former member of the City of Houston’s Community Planning Group (CPG) and the former chair of the City’s Latino HIV Task Force. Ms. Chino currently is the founder and executive director of FLAS, Inc.

Ms. Chinó has been recognized repeatedly for her tremendous efforts in working to create a healthier environment for members of the Latino community in Houston. She was invited to be a guest speaker on Sabado Gigante, a TV program broadcast internationally on Univision, and was named an “Anonymous Hero” by the host Don Francisco in 2006. In 2009, she was chosen Telemundo’s “Heroes Hispanos” and Sheriff Adrian García honored her with a nomination of Deputy Sheriff for Harris County. In 2016 she was nominated by OutSmart’s magazine top LGBTQ Latino Leader. Also, in 2016 she was nominated by the federal government of México and received the award “Premio Revolución”. Finally, in 2016 she was nominated “Angeles De Nuestra Comunidad” and received the Jefferson Foundation Award in recognition of outstanding public service. As Executive Director, her primary role is administering and management over 2 million dollars each year in federal, state and local funding for integrated program services that includes HIV/STD preventions and testing, community-based prevention services, and program evaluation. Under her leadership, significant growth and improvements have occurred including, program effectiveness, creation of quality standards for prevention services, and the doubling of the annual operating budget to support community-based strategies. Elia continues to be a sought-after consultant and presenter due to her reputation for excellence in the HIV/STD and Viral Hepatitis Prevention. Finally, Ms. Chinó brought in last 10 years to the City of Houston in funding approximately 20 million for behavioral services and education services.

Tiommi Luckett headshot with National Organizer, Transgender law center

Latinx living with HIV are most likely to be denied some services upon eligibility and experience more barriers to access to care upon requirements; but there’s nothing that prevents providers from practice cultural humility, exercise language justice and advocate for social justice. – Jean Hernández, M.A., Latinx Outreach Coordinator for AIDS Alabama

Serving as the Latinx Outreach Coordinator for AIDS Alabama has allowed Jean Hernandez to bring together her passions of empowering women of color and providing support to vulnerable populations across our state. Jean lives her life as a fierce advocate and liaison for the Latinx LGBTQ+ community in Birmingham. Through her work, she connects Latinx individuals living with HIV/AIDS with translation services, transportation, housing assistance, and help to navigate the legal immigration system. Jean likes to approach her work through shared heritage and culture. “You can bring people together through language, food, and traditions while celebrating what makes us unique,” she says. “When you have a sense of belonging you are home and you are not alone anymore.”

She credits the strong Latinas in her life for molding her into the passionate activist she is today. Her Abuela (grandmother), mama (mother), and hija (daughter) help her each day to find the strength to fight against injustice and to end HIV/AIDS in the Latinx community and Birmingham as a whole. For Jean, serving and celebrating others isn’t just a job, it’s a way of life.

Rick Guasco headshot with positively aware magazine

So much stigma exists in our community surrounding HIV, and for transgender individuals this stigma is even greater. If living my truth as a trans Latina openly living with HIV and leading a transgender advocacy organization as CEO can help reduce discrimination and empower my community, I see it as my duty. This is also why I am proud to be a U=U Global Ambassador, visibility is vital! - Arianna Lint, Founder/CEO of Arianna's Center

Arianna Inurritegui-Lint, is a passionate trans educator and advocate originally from Peru where she graduated Law School. She has worked for the Florida Health Department in the field of HIV and AIDS since 2006. As a transgender woman, she has seen firsthand how her own community has been ravaged by this life-altering disease.

Arianna dedicates her time to educating, mentoring & advocating for people in her community. She is experienced in public speaking and facilitating classes and workshops about transgender issues, HIV in transgender communities, and diversity. She also provides pre/post counseling and testing and event planning in the field of HIV prevention, doing outreach for those at risk of contracting HIV.  Arianna has had the opportunity to work with ADAP & CHEERS for Peers, and the Work Group for Transgender people in Florida State, for the Florida Health Dept. Later on in an Immunology Clinic, she was on the front lines with people that have been infected & affected by HIV as a Family Support Worker and as a Human Services Counselor II.

Arianna is the head of the South Florida Chapter of the TransLatin@ Coalition. She is currently seeking her Masters in Social Work.

Nathan Maxey headshot with H-I-V advocate

In order to eradicate the HIV epidemic in the Latinx communities we need to stay together, be humble to get stronger and ending this epidemic. – Jorge Gardela, CEO for High Impacto

Jorge Gardela is committed to the fight against HIV/AIDS.  Jorge Gardela is the current Chief Executive Officer of High Impacto which provides education about the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) and to offer comprehensive support services to the Hispanic community and members of the minority communities affected by the condition.

He is also the Broward County HIV Prevention Planning Council Co-Chair, Co-Chair of the Florida Latino AIDS Advisory Group, Co-Chair of the Broward County Latinos en Acción Advisory Group, and a founding member and Broward County’s representative to the UCHAPS (Urban Coalition for HIV/AIDS Prevention Services).

His current focus is to advance community health, HIV/AIDS prevention, and care services in the context of a changing healthcare environment. Some of his current professional core objectives include advancing and responding to the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, increasing efforts to accomplish communicable disease integration, and preparing staff and community leaders for the implementation of prevention and care services in accordance with the Affordable Care Act.


Southern AIDS Coalition on the Jennifer Hudson Show

On World AIDS Day 2023, we joined The Normal Anomaly on The Jennifer Hudson Show to discuss HIV in the South.

Reflections on the Inaugural Southern Solidarity HIV Advocacy Summit

Will Ramirez, Director of Public Policy & Advocacy, closing remarks to the Southern Solidarity HIV Advocacy Summit


SAC congratulates the appointment of Dafina Ward, Executive Director, to the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS

Southern AIDS Coalition Condemns Proposed House Appropriations Bill that Threatens to Worsen the HIV Epidemic in the United States

Southern AIDS Coalition Condemns Proposed House Appropriations Bill that Threatens to Worsen the HIV Epidemic in the United States

Saving Ourselves Symposium Registration is NOW OPEN

SAC is excited to announce that registration for the 2023 SOS Conference is officially open! You can register for the early bird pricing of $250 until June 30.

Mardrequs Harris Promoted to Deputy Director at Southern AIDS Coalition

Harris’s Promotion Strengthens SAC’s Commitment to Elevating Southern Voices and Empowering Emerging Leaders in the Fight Against HIV/AIDS

A Note From Dafina Ward, Executive Director

A note from Dafina Ward, Executive Director, on the month of May, self-care for the Summer, going on break, and a new Deputy Director.

Meet Our New Team Members!

Meet the new staff at SAC. Nay Coleman, Justin Lofton, Brady Maiden, and Justin Searcy share their pasts and hopes for the future.


The Southern AIDS Coalition announces their 2022–2023 cycle of SPARK! Grants recipients. Read to learn more

This is Not a JOB, This is My Calling

“This Is Not a Job, This Is My Calling” is a reflection from Marnina Miller, Community Outreach Associate on her time at SAC

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