A transgender model from Fair Lawn is speaking up on behalf of those who may not feel comfortable talking about their identities and sexual health.
Elmwood Park native Carmen Carrera, currently of Fair Lawn, is joining actor and singer Julian Walker and comedian Daniel Franzese in sharing their perspectives on healthier sex in a new sex-positive campaign by biopharmaceutical company Gilead: Healthysexual.
Since launching in 2017, the Healthysexual campaign has helped generate meaningful conversations among individuals at risk for HIV and their healthcare providers about healthy sexual behaviors, including the importance of getting tested, practicing safer sex and understanding HIV prevention options.
Healthysexual helps individuals and communities access information to help them make informed decisions about their sexual health.
"I'm proud of who I am an you should be too," said Carrera, 33. "Don't let stigma take away your health."
Carrera detailed how coming out twice made her explore her sexual orientation and then gender identity. And then, HIV crept forward.
The model lost her dad to AIDS at just two years old. Ever since then, her family felt a stigma around the disease that it went unspoken, she said in a campaign video.
That stigma remained throughout her childhood and early adulthood.
"I knew I wanted to stay healthy but didn't know how," she said.
Carerra had her own health scares and navitaged through many tough conversations. While she feels society has come a long way in preventing HIV and AIDS, she feels there are still gaps in awareness.
“The stigma surrounding HIV has complicated efforts to put an end to its spread," said Douglas M. Brooks, Senior Director for Community Engagement at Gilead.
"We know that treatment and prevention tools only work when those whose lives place them at elevated risk fully understand their options and feel comfortable seeking care.
“To bring this epidemic to an end, we have to change the discussion surrounding HIV."
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