East LA medical provider creates telenovela on reality of HIV, AIDS in Latin community

EAST LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Telenovelas are filled with stories of infidelity and heartache, but a major medical provider took a cue from the medium to dispel myths about HIV and AIDS.

The telenovela "Sin Verguenza," which means "without shame," has made a big impact on YouTube and its second season is set to start.

The web series offers just a peek of what health care workers Hilda Sandoval and Natalie Sanchez see every day at Altamed's East Los Angeles HIV clinic.

"We really added the entertainment component, but we were truthful to the reality of what HIV is and the reality of how it impacts individuals," Sanchez said.

Sandoval and Sanchez felt telenovelas were a unique educational tool that Latino families would pay attention to, so they worked with a production company and the CDC funded the project.

"We really want to be able to address how people - if they're struggling with depression, if they're struggling with substance abuse - how do they actually seek out and find care," Sanchez said.

Nationwide, Latinos make up 23 percent of new HIV infections, and locally that number doubles. In Los Angeles County, Latinos make up 44 percent of new HIV infections.

Yolanda Salinas was infected with HIV at the age of 25. She wishes the show was around when she was diagnosed.

"I felt deprived. I felt cut in half not being able to have any more kids in fear of transmitting the virus to an unborn child," she said.

In season two, an HIV infected character successfully gives birth to a baby without HIV thanks to new treatments.

"There is no shame in talking about HIV, and there is no shame in addressing it as a community," Sandoval said.
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