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HIV 360° Fellow Spotlight: Andés Cano

Earlier this year, HRC Foundation announced the inaugural class of the 2016 HIV 360° Fellowship Program. Made possible with generous support from the Elton John AIDS Foundation, HIV 360° is a capacity-building fellowship program for young, nonprofit leaders ready to take HIV-inclusive organizations and initiatives to the next level. The HRC blog recently sat down with each of the fellows to discuss the program, their work, and their vision of an AIDS-free generation. 

Andrés Cano, 24, is an aide and community liaison to Pima County Supervisor Richard Elías in Tucson, Arizona, where he also works to advance HIV prevention, treatment, and care through his involvement with Tucson’s National Latino AIDS Awareness Day Planning Committee. For three years, Andrés led and expanded the committee’s effort to normalize conversations about HIV and HIV testing among Southern Arizona’s Latino families. In 2015, Andrés was named Equality Arizona’s Emerging Leader of the Year, and in 2016, he was awarded the Gabe Zimmerman Emerging Leader Award by the Center for the Future of Arizona. He currently serves as Vice Chair of Planned Parenthood Arizona’s Board of Directors.

How did you first get involved with the movement to end the HIV and AIDS epidemic? How, if at all, did that inspire you to become an HIV 360° Fellow?

I live in Pima County, where one in four new transmissions of HIV affect Latinos. Like many Latinos, I grew up in a household that didn’t talk openly about sexual health or wellness, let alone HIV. My experiences growing up, and my work as a policy aide to an elected official, empowered me to think critically about how we can best take care of our loved ones in Southern Arizona. I am inspired by HIV 360°’s commitment to having us all be catalysts for change, and I’m beyond grateful to be part of a cohort that is laser-focused on culturally-responsive prevention and treatment efforts that reflect our diverse and incredible communities, especially communities of color.

Each fellow has been asked to design, implement, and evaluate a community service project to combat HIV transmission rates in their respective communities. Tell us about yours and what you hope to accomplish with it.

With the help of HRC and the Elton John AIDS Foundation, Southern Arizona is leading several efforts to increase awareness about HIV and treatment among Latinos. Our diverse planning committee is expanding its regional, stakeholder-driven HIV marketing strategy to reach 18-29 year old Latino men who have sex with men. As a result of our advocacy, we expect young, Latino gay and bisexual men in our community will learn more about Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis and other HIV prevention methods, and they will have a better sense of where they can go to find health care providers in the area willing to provide culturally relevant, HIV-inclusive care.

What is one key learning you’ve gained from the fellowship program? What have you enjoyed the most about it?

The HIV 360° Fellowship Program has helped me think more critically about our committee’s #MomentsThatMatter public awareness campaign and how it can become a more data-driven and evidence-based public health initiative in its next phase. In a world of limited resources and time, this program has taught me how important it is to be focused and strategic. Above all, the most enjoyable part of the fellowship has been developing a strong network of support among my cohort, both professionally and personally. They are all near and dear to my heart, and they’ve earned the title of “family” in my inner circles.

How can people learn more about your organization and support the work you are doing? 

Tucson’s National Latino AIDS Awareness Day Planning Committee is made up of 15 members, each representing various health care providers, government and educational partners, and community members. The Committee’s work includes a health resource fair with on-site HIV/STI testing, a silent auction to raise money for our prevention efforts, and a free, educational community dinner in downtown Tucson. Stay up to date on everything that we’re doing by following us on Facebook.

Check back here in the coming weeks to learn more about each one of the HIV 360° Fellows. For now, be sure read Thomas’ story by clicking here.

To learn more about the HIV 360° Fellowship Program itself, click here.