About Us

Our History

In 2002, as part of our national community mobilization work, we recognized that the growing Latino communities in the South frequently had no access to healthcare, were not being adequately reached through traditional health/ prevention awareness programs, and faced numerous language barriers as many health service agencies lacked Spanish-speaking or culturally conversant employees. In 2006 we met with the Ford Foundation to discuss the urgent need to support our vision to develop a regional Latino initiative in the southern region of the United States. In the summer of 2007, the Latino Commission on AIDS launched its strategic program initiative: Latinos in the Deep South. Latinos in the Deep South worked in seven states: North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Louisiana and Mississippi. ​Since 2012, the Latinos in the Deep South program has been housed in North Carolina. In 2019, Latinos in the Deep South becomes Latinos in the South adding Texas and Florida to target states. That same year, Latinos in the South convened it's first Encuentro, a yearly, Southern gathering of multi-racial Latinx LGBTQ community and allies to end the HIV epidemic.

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2019 Convened the first annual Encuentro in Atlanta, GA

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2012 Established the North Carolina office of Latinos in the Deep South

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2007 Launching of the Latinos in the Deep South Program

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2006Meeting with Ford Foundation

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2002Recognizing Challenges of Latinos in the Deep South

Our People

Jessie Claudio

Jessie Claudio

Community Building Manager based in Memphis, Tennessee

Jessie is an activist, educator, and public health professional with over 5 years of experience providing sexual health education and training. Throughout his career, he has run city-wide HIV testing and condom distribution, school-level sexual health education, LGBTQ peer support networks, served as an LGBTQ+ Latinx Community Ambassador, and non-profit capacity-building programs. For the last 3 years, he has served as a regional HIV testing trainer, certifying many diverse professionals to provide high-quality counseling, testing, and linkage-to-care services.

To reach Jessie Claudio:  JCLAUDIO@LATINOAIDS.ORG

“My hope for our community is for everyone to have access to healthy living in the South. Which to me means having a plethora of resources (not just medical) that are not easily but readily accessible for our community despite the level of income, education, legal status, race/ethnicity, sexual preference, gender identity, location, etc. without any major barriers. Y juntos podemos!”
Aleida Espinal

Aleida Fernández

NC Community Organizer based in Charlotte, NC

Aleida has over 14 years of experience working as a Ryan White medical case manager, outreach, HIV prevention, and education prioritizing the Latinx community, LGBTQ+, immigrants, and individuals living with HIV as their lives are impacted by it. Prior to joining the Latino Commission on AIDS, Aleida worked for Carolinas Care Partnership, Novant Health, and Rain, Inc in Charlotte, NC.

To reach Aleida Fernández:  AESPINAL@LATINOAIDS.ORG

“I am passionate about improving the lives of so many living with HIV and their families where stigma, cultural beliefs, and lack of access to health insurance are some of the aspects that affect access to care the most.”
Carlos Fernandex

Carlos Fernández

Community Engagement Specialist

Carlos was born and raised in Durham, NC, and has served varied and diverse roles in his local community. He began his professional life at Duke University after receiving a degree in Business and Marketing. In 2014, he launched a rapidly expanding career as a Drag artist that invigorated his desire to create and facilitate safe spaces and events for the LGBTQ+ community. He eventually left his position at Duke to more fully pursue his passion for community outreach, engagement and education. In addition to his position at the Latino Commission on AIDS and with Latinos in the South, he also serves as co-chair of Pride: Durham, NC.  

His goal is to continue using his art, education, and experience to provide space and support to the LGBTQ+ community, especially the BIPOC, Latinx, and trans communities, and to promote safe sex practices and the accessibility of sexual health resources.

To reach Carlos Fernández:  CFERNANDEZ@LATINOAIDS.ORG

Daniela Ceron

Daniela Cerón

Policy & Communications Associate based in Durham, NC

Daniela Cerón recently earned her Master’s in Social Work from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a concentration in Community, Management, and Policy practice. She is passionate about fostering community partnerships to promote equitable outcomes for marginalized communities. As someone who grew up in Rural Hall, NC she is also committed to working with rural communities across North Carolina.

Before joining Latinos in the South, Daniela worked with the Latino Migration Project to partner with local governments to create inclusive practices and policies for immigrants and refugees. She has also worked with people experiencing homelessness and spent some time in Alamance County working in early childhood education.

Daniela holds a Bachelor’s degree from Elon University in Strategic Communications and Religious Studies. In her free time, she enjoys gaming, gardening, and painting with watercolors.

To reach Daniela Cerón:  DCERON@LATINOAIDS.ORG

Joaquin Carcano

Joaquín Carcaño

Director of Southern Health Policy based in Durham, NC

Joaquín Carcaño is a queer, transgender Mexican-American man who calls home both the Rio Grande Valley of the Texas-Mexico border and Durham, North Carolina.  Following his undergrad at the University of Texas at Austin, he worked in community health in the Peruvian Andes, followed by 6 years working at UNC’s Institute for Global Health and Infectious Diseases focused on HIV care linkage and navigation services primarily for the state’s Latinx community.

In 2016, Joaquín became the lead plaintiff in the North Carolina HB2/HB142 lawsuit which restricted access to public facilities for the transgender community and removed anti-discrimination protections for the LGBTQ community. In 2018, Joaquín joined the Latino Commission on AIDS, Latinos in the South staff as the Director of Community Organizing and began his new role as Director of Southern Health Policy in 2022. He is a board member of the LGBTQ Center of Durham, the Southern AIDS Coalition, and the ACLU of NC.

To reach Joaquín Carcaño:  JOAQUIN@LATINOAIDS.ORG

Judith Montenegro

Judith Montenegro

Program Director based in Chapel Hill, NC

Judith Montenegro joined the Latino Commission on AIDS and their Latinos in the South program in 2013 as their Director of Community Organizing and in 2016, she became the Program Director.  As a Mexican immigrant living in North Carolina, Judith is passionate about working with immigrant populations focusing on immigration reform, and improving health care access for Latine communities.

She has served on the boards of directors of the American Heart Association, Durham Central Park, Alianza Americas, and El Centro Hispano. She is currently a board member of El Vinculo Hispano and serves on numerous advisory committees. Before joining the Latino Commission on AIDS, Judith was a paralegal focused on medical case management and workers' compensation claims.

To reach Judith Montenegro:  JMONTENEGRO@LATINOAIDS.ORG