Gonzalo Aburto is a man on a mission. That's nothing new for this longtime activist. Whether the New Yorker is tackling issues of health and prevention within his community or simply living positively with HIV, he doesn't back down from a good fight.
Aburto has been on the front lines of the fight against HIV since the 1980s. While scientific advances and societal change have made it possible to live longer and better lives with HIV, many in the country -- especially marginalized communities like immigrants and people of color -- are still lagging behind in prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. This is especially true for the Latinx community.
"After almost 40 years in this epidemic, little has changed for us," Aburto says. "We are facing all the same things now that we faced at the beginning."
Aburto has been a decades-long witness to the Latinx community's inability to access the same level of resources and care as the larger population. This is especially true for recent immigrant and refugee populations who find themselves in a new environment. Even for resident populations, there can still be obstacles to the most basic HIV education and prevention because of language barriers and scant resources. The intersectionality of racism and health care is even more acute for queer members of the community.
It's for these reasons Aburto recently co-founded Latinx+, a Pennsylvania-based LGBTQ+ support group that seeks to draw on the expertise of those who have already been working on the ground within these neglected communities.
"We're trying to call attention to this situation, to see if we can work out our own agenda based on the experiences that we have, and the work that every one of us has done," Aburto says.
Aburto comes from Mexico and is representative of the diverse composition of the group, members of which hail from up and down the Americas.
"We think we have something to say, and we want to be sure our ideas, our proposals, and our needs are taken into consideration with the people who decide where policies and resources for these programs are going," Aburto says.