The 21st Century Plague

By: Carla Eboli, CMO

In November of 2003, a study published by a group of scientists called the HIV virus “the 21st century plague.” Sure they didn’t have a crystal ball, but scientists could anticipate, based on alarming numbers, what the future could bring. Today, more than 35 million are living with HIV around the world – a number larger than the population of countries such as Venezuela, Australia, Portugal, Hong Kong and Ireland just to name a few.

In the USA, according to the CDC, there are more than 1.1 million people living with the virus, and the problem is even more alarming among minorities such as gays and bisexuals, young adults, women, African Americans and Hispanics. For you to have an idea, US Hispanics represent “higher rates of both new HIV infections and people living with HIV disease than their white counterparts”, to the CDC.

But how can one control such an epidemic disease? Education is the answer, according to UNICEF: “evidence shows that school-based sex education can be effective in changing the knowledge, attitudes and practices that lead to risk behavior.”

With that in mind, Florida International University, in partnership with The Mixto Foundation and Dieste Inc., developed their first HIV awareness campaign focused on US Hispanic adolescents and young adults. The campaign, which officially launched on Tuesday, January 20, is bringing Miss Hivaria to life, a beauty pageant candidate representing the fictitious Republic of Hivaria. The country symbolizes the contingent of 35 million people infected with the HIV virus around the world. The awareness initiative has two major pillars: on-campus activation programs and a social media component. You can learn more about HIV prevention and Miss Hivaria by accessing her Facebook page or following her on Instagram and Twitter.