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Sin Vergüenza

The popular telenovela Sin Vergüenza continues to smash stigma and educate people about HIV.

Sin Vergüenza literally translates to “without shame.” The title of this popular web series, now three seasons deep, is a direct reference to its underlying mission: eradicating stigma and shame around HIV within the Latinx community.

The telenovela (a Latin American soap opera) is a powerful cultural touchtone in Latinx culture, which is exactly why this medium was chosen to tell the story of the Salazars, a fictional Mexican-American family affected by HIV. Not only did this angle help the show reach large numbers of the community, the dramatic format has allowed it to cleverly deliver education in the guise of entertainment.

Although the series, presented by AltaMed Health Services, is certainly drenched in the usual juicy drama (secrets, lies, and love triangles) that telenovelas are famous for, Sin Vergüenza is also different in many ways. For starters, the Salazars are neither super wealthy (the old standard in soaps and novelas) nor extremely poor (a commonly used trope of Latinx families on TV). They are simply a hard-working, business-owning, middle-class family living in East Los Angeles — a much more realistic and relatable setting for many Latin-Americans.

Sin Vergüenza was created by Natalie Sanchez, clinic administrator of HIV services at AltaMed, who also made the innovative decision to film the show bilingually — meaning both an English and Spanish version are created, basically doubling the show’s reach (and the actor’s workload).

The Salazar family is affected by HIV at the beginning of the series, which is handled with sensitivity and real facts (kudos to the writers and talented cast). At the end of each episode, a related topic is briefly covered (such as condom use, PrEP, and HIV testing), followed by a list of resources where you can find help or more info.

Though HIV was the primarily theme throughout the first couple of seasons, the show has expanded to tackle other tough issues in its third season, including alcoholism, mental health, homophobia, transphobia, and domestic violence—and again includes resource information on where to get help.

Sin Vergüenza has become a prominent HIV educational tool among community health organizations across the country aimed at reducing HIV health disparities in the Latino community,” says Sanchez. “While viewers may be drawn into the drama of the series, our ultimate goal is to show the journey of persons living with HIV commonly experience.”

Watch English or Spanish episodes of Sin Vergüenza at or on YouTube.


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