Luciano is a young Latin American living with HIV and the newest patient ambassador for GlaxoSmithKline and HIV med Dovato from ViiV Healthcare.
Originally from Argentina, Luciano stars in Dovato’s first Spanish-language television commercial, which airs Monday on Telemundo and Univision. He was diagnosed with HIV during his first year in law school while visiting New York.
Far from home and without a Spanish-speaking doctor, the experience was overwhelming and frightening. Now program director for the Latino Commission on AIDS in New York City, Luciano is a strong advocate for the Latinx and LGBTQ community.
Considering that Latinx adults and adolescents make up 27% of all new HIV diagnoses in the United States, ViiV’s addition of a Spanish television ad is an outreach goal.
“It is essential that people see each other, get along and that information is available in Spanish,” said Marc Meachem, ViiV’s Head of External Affairs.
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ViiV knows from experience that representation matters. While Luciano is the Latinx first person in his “More to Me” television commercial series, other patient ambassadors include a black man, a white gay man, and a black woman. Meachem highlighted the “huge” response to previous patient announcements with many glowing phone calls and emails.
“People feel it’s genuine and they see themselves,” he said. “They also feel it takes some of the stigma out of HIV when they see people living well with HIV who seek care and engage in care.
Along with Telemundo and Univision TV commercials, a Spanish-language Dovato website is launched, bolstered by digital banner ads and social media delivery.
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ViiV’s previous initiatives focused on Latinx men included a 10-month listening tour with gay, bisexual and transgender Latino men in 11 cities in the United States and Puerto Rico. ViiV took to the road to ask for their perspectives, key issues, barriers to care, and potential solutions. The subsequent report, “Here As I Am”, published last June, compiled information on family, society, access to care and support.
The report concluded: “Men from all walks of life have shared that some of their biggest challenges have to do with navigating how society responds to men’s identities. In this uncertain landscape, family-like support networks and trusted providers have become particularly important. “
Support for Latinx HIV and other communities could become even more important in the coming year, as delays in HIV testing and treatment during the pandemic are revealed. An NPR article in April called dropping the HIV pandemic to focus on COVID-19 “a major derailment”, especially in southern states, which are now seen as the epicenter of the HIV crisis in the USA