Pride on the Eastside Festival provides community with HIV educational awareness, resources

SAN ANTONIO – Part of Pride Month is having difficult conversations about LGBTQ+ issues and replacing negative stigmas with educational awareness. The Pride on the Eastside Festival did just that in a fun and empowering way on Saturday.

Event coordinator Thomas Evans said Pride is more than a celebration — it’s a time to bring awareness about the human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV.

“HIV is not the end, and if you have the right help and right resources, which are linked to care, then this is something that can be very manageable,” Evans said.

The San Antonio AIDS Foundation was providing on-site HIV testing. Joining them was the Alamo Area Resource Center, which also offered resources like counseling, connections to treatment, and financial aid to help with HIV treatment.

“I was genuinely surprised that people didn’t know things. They think it’s a death sentence. This isn’t the ‘80s. The fact is that there are statistics proving clients who get on treatment can outlive someone who doesn’t have it,” Arturo Ortiz said.

Educational awareness does make a difference.

The FDA recently abandoned discriminatory blood donation guidelines that were set back in the ‘80s when little was known about the virus.

The new FDA ruling will remove an abstinence requirement for gay donors, and it will ask all donors about their sexual history.

District 2 Councilman Jalen Mckee-Rodriguez, the first openly gay man elected to the San Antonio City Council, says the change is welcome and much needed.

“The ban, as it was, was extremely discriminatory. It prevented us from saving lives,” Mckee-Rodriguez said.

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