William Torres Fuentes is a gay Latino living with HIV who believes that the lack of understanding around HIV/AIDS paired with North Carolina’s lack of laws explicitly protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination make it more challenging to live life freely and get the care he needs and deserves. On top of the lack of nondiscrimination protections, William said he has frequently encountered a fundamental lack of knowledge about HIV/AIDS from healthcare professionals, whether it’s during a standard visit to the dentist or an unexpected trip to the Emergency Room.
“Providers have sometimes seemed nervous to physically interact with me or have inaccurately advised me on sexual health, although I take my medication and am currently undetectable,” William said. “Through the years, I have learned that knowledge is power, and that together, we can help to break down stigma one person at a time. HIV is preventable and treatable. We can all take concrete steps toward a better future for people living with HIV and for the LGBTQ community at large. We can change this story, and I’m committed to being a part of the solution.”