Over the weekend I watched Pedro, a biopic based on the short life of Cuban immigrant, AIDS activist, and MTV’s The Real World: San Francisco star Pedro Zamora. Due to its raw inspiration stemming from Zamora’s personal and societal battles with HIV—he was the first HIV positive person to be on television (and in a time of HIV ignorance no less)—this film is a must see. But regardless as to whether you see it or not, I feel compelled to relay two main traits—openness and passion—which Pedro demonstrates as having leveraged success for HIV awareness.

From the first scene on when Zamora is defending to his sister his decision to be honest about having HIV to The Real World we are introduced to how vital openness is to undercutting prejudices. Then by continually being his kind and fun self while also being honest about not only having HIV but also being gay, Zamora helped normalize the once alienated HIV and LGBT communities.

Also, throughout Pedro we see how critical passion is to pushing HIV awareness into mainstream. Even as his own health deteriorated Zamora continued his efforts until he ended up in the hospital, reminding everyone of the towering importance he ascribed to HIV awareness. As is human nature, this fervor spurred people to pick up the ropes. But sixteen years later, with new cases of HIV in the United States hovering at over 50,000 annually—a number that the CDC reports is roughly stable since the late 1990s—Zamora’s successful advocacy tools of openness and passion surely need more use.

Want to take action? Visit AIDS Action.

Need more inspiration? Watch Pedro through Netflix or buy it off Amazon and/or see part one of the tribute on YouTube.

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