Jaszi Johnathan Alejandro, 25
Community Health Specialist
New York, NY
Born and raised in the Bronx, actor/educator /activist Jaszi Jonathan Alejandro is currently working at New York’s Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC), where he focuses on working with at-risk teens. At the center’s new drop-in youth center, Club1319, he facilitates HIV and STD discussions, but also art classes, theater workshops, vogueing, and as he puts it, “anything that can make learning fun and useful.”
“We deal with obstacles like peer pressure, substance use, violence, acceptance, loneliness, poverty, [poor] health and [low] self-esteem,” he notes. “All these can lead to risky behaviors or decisions, some of the factors contributing to why so many LGBT youth are getting infected with HIV.”
Alejandro has firsthand experience: Diagnosed as HIV+ in 2005, he’s made it a life mission to do anything he can to prevent new infections, to make HIV (and STD) testing a routine part of people’s lives and to eradicate the stigma and discrimination still surrounding HIV+ people.
Alejandro received the 2011 Brendan Upson Award from Brooklyn’s Teatro El Puente for outstanding leadership and dedication to bringing HIV awareness to the Latino community and is spokesperson for several popular social-marketing campaigns including “HIV Stops with Me” (above) and the GLAAD Award-winning “I Love My Boo” campaign, which targets healthy relationships amongst MSM of color.
“There is no cure for this virus,” he says. “[Right now] the only cure is education.”