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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

The impact

The impact has been tremendous. We’ve seen significant results across all phases of the project thus far. Some of the successes include:

  • Increasing civil society capacity to implement effective community responses. Vida Digna has helped key populations to build strong and effective networks, both within the participating countries and across the region. For existing organisations, it has strengthened their capability to design and implement projects, as well as their organisational and administrative capacity and their grant management skills. What’s more, several new community-based organisations representing key populations have been formed through the project.

English Transcript

“Another of the measures of impact for us was the creation of three new organisations of transgender people and one of people living with HIV. And, another of them was making visible the problem of ID use in one state, because they were completely invisible, and through the project they became visible. And, it was the first project in the region of needle exchange for safer injecting and preventing HIV.”

- Juan Jacobo Hernández, General Director, Colectivo Sol

Spanish Transcript

“Otra de las formas de saber esto es se crearon tres organizaciones de personas transgénero en tres de los estados y una organizaciones con personas viviendo con VIH. Y también la visibilidad de los usuarios de drogas inyectadas que eran totalmente invisibles, y generar el primer proyecto de intercambio de agujas que son seguras y prevención de VIH. “

- Juan Jacobo Hernández, Director General, Colectivo Sol

  • Scaling up and delivering quality community programmes involving key populations, as well as key influencers from the broader community, to reduce stigma and discrimination and improve services.  Community-based and civil-society partners have developed and implemented innovative projects to inform, educate and empower key populations.  What’s more, projects have effectively engaged the general public, the media, key decision makers and healthcare providers to decrease stigma and discrimination.  Projects have also resulted in improved access to quality services for key populations, including early testing, referral and care for HIV and other STIs and access to antiretroviral treatment – and they have increased demand for these services among key populations who were not previously accessing them.
  • Strengthening political advocacy / the influence of key populations in national programming and in national and international policy.  For example, when Vida Digna started, there was only one partner organisation represented in Mexico’s State HIV and AIDS Committees (Consejo Estatal de VIH/SIDA, COESIDA). During the course of the project in Mexico, that number grew to 11. Also thanks to the project, the National Committee on Prevention and Control of HIV/AIDS in Mexico now has two individuals from partner organisations serving as representatives of the transgender and gay populations.  Representation of key populations on both of these important bodies provides a valuable opportunity to position the key issues and improve the response to HIV-related stigma and discrimination.

These results are now being replicated in El Salvador, where already we’ve seen Atlacatl use its influence to successfully petition for a National Day of Solidarity with People Living with HIV.  Atlacatl also played a key role in changing Salvadorian labour laws so that they do not discriminate against people living with HIV and so that employers cannot demand a compulsory HIV test.

I think the results we’ve seen throughout the project really underscore the power of our three-pronged approach, which was to: (1) make a long-term commitment; (2) back it up with sustainable programming; and, (3) multiply the benefit via effective South-South collaboration.



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