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Luciano is a young Latino man living with HIV—and the newest patient ambassador for GlaxoSmithKline and ViiV Healthcare’s HIV med Dovato.

A native of Argentina, Luciano is starring in Dovato’s first Spanish-language TV ad, which debuts Monday on Telemundo and Univision. He was diagnosed with HIV during his first year of law school while visiting New York.

Far from home and without a Spanish-speaking doctor, the experience was overwhelming and scary. Now a program director for the Latino Commission on AIDS in New York, Luciano is an outspoken advocate for the Latinx and LGBTQ community.

Considering that Latinx adults and adolescents account for 27% of all new HIV diagnoses in the U.S., ViiV’s addition of a Spanish-language TV ad is a purposeful outreach.

“It’s critical for people to see themselves, to hear themselves and for information to be available in Spanish,” said Marc Meachem, ViiV’s head of external affairs.

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ViiV knows from experience that representation matters. While Luciano is the first Latinx person in its “More to Me” series of TV ads, other patient ambassadors include a Black man, a white gay man and a Black woman. Meachem pointed to the “tremendous” response to previous patient ads with many appreciative phone calls and emails.

“People feel it’s authentic, and they see themselves,” he said. “They also feel it’s taking some of the stigma away from HIV by seeing people living well with HIV and who are seeking care and engaging in care.”

Along with the Telemundo and Univision TV ads, a Dovato Spanish-language website is launching, bolstered by digital banner ads and social media outreach.

RELATED: GlaxoSmithKline’s ViiV preps doctors ahead of Cabenuva’s patient marketing push

ViiV’s previous initiatives focused on Latinx men included a 10-month listening tour with Latino gay, bisexual and transgender men in 11 cities in the  U.S. and Puerto Rico. ViiV went on the road to ask for their perspectives, key issues, barriers to care and potential solutions. The ensuing report, “Here As I Am,” published last June and compiled insights about family, society, access to care and support.

The report concluded: “Across settings, men shared that some of their biggest challenges were around navigating how society responds to men’s identities. In this uncertain landscape, family-like support networks and providers that are highly trusted became especially important.”

Support for the Latinx HIV and other communities may become even more important in the coming year, as delays in testing and treatment for HIV during the pandemic are coming to light. An NPR story in April called the shift away from the HIV pandemic to focus on COVID-19 “a major derailing,” especially in southern states, which are now considered the epicenter of the HIV crisis in the U.S.

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