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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 need

Throughout Latin America, discrimination and mistreatment against key populations is common and can pervade every aspect of their lives. Quite often these individuals are discriminated against by their own families, by law enforcement agencies and by society overall, so you can see how this would affect their access to quality information and health services. Rights violations and underrepresentation in decision-making processes also seriously undermine efforts to empower these groups for better preventing and tackling HIV/AIDS.

Not only are stigma and discrimination against these key populations high, but because the attitudes and beliefs that foster this are so pervasive, self-stigma among these communities is also an issue. It’s imperative that key affected populations in this region be empowered to advocate for themselves and demand their basic human rights.

What’s more, through the years, we have seen that empowering key populations has a ripple effect – by supporting and empowering these communities to manage risks and to access prevention, treatment and care services, we not only help combat HIV/AIDS among these populations, but we also help stem the spread of the epidemic among the broader society.

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