Vida Digna (Life With Dignity)

A collaboration between three NGOs to address HIV related stigma, discrimination & violence against key populations via sustainable programmes in Latin America

Introduction

Hi, my name is Erika Páez Manajarrés, and I am the Senior Programme Officer for Latin America and the Caribbean at the International HIV/AIDS Alliance (the Alliance). The Alliance is a global partnership of nationally-based organisations in over 40 countries supporting more than 3,000 HIV/AIDS community action projects.

We have been working with Positive Action on the Vida Digna project since 2005. Designed and first implemented by Colectivo Sol, our Alliance Linking Organisation in Mexico, Vida Digna developed a model for engaging with key populations worst affected by HIV-related stigma and discrimination: people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA), sex workers, gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM), transgender people and drug users.

Hi, my name is Juan Jacobo Hernández and I am the General Director of Colectivo Sol. Colectivo Sol was founded in 1981 out of the Gay Liberation movement in Mexico. In 1983 we started working in HIV/AIDS because we saw that communities around us and our own colleagues were starting to get ill and die.  We have continued working in HIV ever since – both with PLWHA and with at-risk populations.

In 2005, with support from the Alliance and Positive Action, we embarked on one of the first programmes in Central America to address the high levels of stigma, discrimination and even violence faced by key populations – Vida Digna, or “life with dignity”.

Key Facts

Project Name: Vida Digna (Life with Dignity)

Run by: The International HIV/AIDS Alliance in conjunction with the following organisations during various phases of the program: Colectivo Sol (phase I: Mexico, phase II: transition to El Salvador), Atlacatl (phases II and III: El Salvador), and two networks in Central America working with sex workers, RedTraSex, and transgender people, REDLACTRANS (phase III: expansion to five additional countries in the region)

Region: Central America, with specific programming in Mexico, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama

Population: Key populations most affected by HIV-related stigma and discrimination: people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA), sex workers, gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM), transgender people and drug users

Challenges: Persistent and pervasive stigma, discrimination and mistreatment against key populations; Underrepresentation in decision-making processes; Lack of access to quality information and health services; Self-stigma

Activities: Training, technical assistance and seed funding to build the capacity of community organisations; Participatory Community Assessment (PCA) activities used as the basis for needs assessments with key populations, a tool for developing advocacy work plans, and raising awareness with the general population and policy makers; South-South collaboration to expand the impact and influence of the project across the region

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