The National Latinx AIDS Awareness Day (NLAAD) is a national community mobilization and social marketing campaign that unites the Hispanic/Latino/a/x community in efforts to raise HIV awareness, promotion of HIV testing, prevention, and education; in addition to other critical health issues such as viral hepatitis, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and tuberculosis (TB).
This year I had the pleasure of sitting down with Florida House District 49 Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith about his recent engagement, his work as the first openly gay Latinx elected official in Florida, his HIV advocacy, and his role in recent negotiations with Publix Supermarkets to ensure its employee health plans covered PrEP, also known as the HIV prevention pill.
After reports that Publix was denying insurance coverage of PrEP, Rep. Smith and other advocates immediately jumped into action to demand answers from the supermarket chain, meeting with their representatives in the Capitol. Company officials confirmed the decision to deny coverage, but wouldn’t say if it was based solely on cost or moral objections to PrEp.
In a huge victory for the HIV/AIDS prevention community in the South, within 24 hours of meeting with Rep. Smith, Publix reversed course.