When it comes to HIV protection, La Super X radio personality Mario Canedo knows how to make people listen 

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He was always interested in radio. At age 9, he was a personality on a kids' show in Mexico, and he never really stopped broadcasting. When he got the opportunity to work the late-night slot at La Super X, he took it without hesitation.

He discovered that the United States was more permissive. Discussions on his radio program covered a range of topics, and five years ago he opened up the show to allow talk about sex and relationships. He didn't want to advise people on how to behave, but if they had questions, he wanted them to call in.

Almost immediately, he says, representatives from three Hispanic churches contacted the station to have him removed from the air. Shows such as Loveline are prevalent on the English-language dial, but in Canedo's line, most disc jockeys won't touch such topics. His philosophy is that people want to talk about normal life. They want to hear about simple things in a way that makes them laugh, and sometimes that includes sex.

Of his early critics, he says, "I think they finally understood that my show is not something bad." Rather, it's a place where people can be entertained and informed. "People call in and they talk about sex in bed, how to meet people, whether their husband or wife is cheating. All I want is to talk about things in a good way and be funny. Like how to be good in relationships and protect yourself from STDs."

Much of the discussion comes down to loneliness. Some callers just want someone to talk to for a minute or two. More men than women immigrate from Mexico, Canedo says, making it difficult to partner with those who understand their culture. Men call in with legal problems, after leaving their wives and children to make money and finding that they can't go back to see their families.

Once, a man said he had come from Guatemala to Kansas City and spent a week living in a Dumpster. He heard the radio program and called in to see if anyone could help him.

"We are the shoulder everyone can cry on," Canedo says.

Later this month, Canedo's show will move to morning drive time. He's eager for the larger audience, but he doesn't plan to change any of the discussion topics.

Last fall, a Spanish-language magazine mentioned him in a story about the Good Samaritan Project. Two of his female friends called when the magazine came out, worried that he was infected.

People make assumptions, he notes. "If you have gay friends, you must be gay. If you help Good Samaritan, you must be sick." (He declines to disclose his sexual orientation for this story.)

Those assumptions lead people to avoid getting tested for HIV. In the last month, Canedo says, three of the people he referred to Good Samaritan have tested positive for HIV. Each person's immediate reaction was to beg him not to tell anyone.

"I say to them, 'I won't tell, but you must tell someone you trust and start learning how to help yourself and not be afraid of what people will say,'" Canedo says. People don't want to get tested because they're scared, he says. But there's good reason to be tested.

"This sickness is something we can control better now. You're not going to die tomorrow."

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