I’m Juan, and I am originally from Cuba but I’ve been in the United States for almost all my life. I also just got out of jail where I was in the psych ward about a year ago, after being in there for 8 years. I’ve always seen a lot of people criticized on the street like “they got AIDS” and “look how they look,” and that, along with never thinking that I could get HIV, were some reasons why I didn’t take the test as many times as I should besides when I was going in and out of lock up.

Last year when I got out of lock up, I went to the doctor and they asked if I wanted to take an HIV test. I said yes because I wanted to know if I had it or not. I heard so much stuff about HIV and AIDS and the thing that worried me the most is that there are a high amount of cases in New Orleans and Baton Rouge. That was my main reason for getting tested - I wanted to know so that if I had it I could start getting treatment. Since then, I got tested for HIV twice. Getting tested is very important to me now, and I like to encourage others to take the test too because it’s more than just a test. Being on the streets this past year taught me how to understand people and deal with a lot of different problems. I strongly believe in encouraging people to take care of their health and love themselves a little more, starting with taking that HIV test.

Juan’s story is one of our HIV Testing & Prevention program’s "Role Model Stories” in which real people describe how they made a change to reduce their risk and improve their health as it relates to HIV and AIDS. Names have been changed and the images are staged with actors.