XVIII International AIDS Conference

Abstract

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Peers: a positive experience in HIV/AIDS prevention work with the transgender community in Guatemala

D.A. Ramirez

Redlactrans Guatemala, Ciudad de Guatemala, Guatemala

Issues: The AIDS epidemic has been present in Guatemala since 1984 and prevention campaigns began in 1985. However, it was only at the end of the 90s when the transgender community, one of the most affected groups by the epidemic, started to be considered as a target of HIV prevention efforts thanks to the advocacy work of OTRANS (Organización Trans Reinas de la Noche). OTRANS has helped visibilize the needs of the transgender population in Guatemala and implement peer-based prevention methods.
Description: In 2009, OTRANS implemented a comprehensive project -funded by Norway´s government through its Embassy in Guatemala- consisting of access to prevention information, condom distribution, HIV testing and emotional support targeting the transgender community. Both the prevention and care efforts were executed by certified trans peer educators. So far, 49 community-level interventions and 34 health education/risk reduction workshops have been delivered reaching 2.310 individuals and 1530 participants, respectively. Additionally, over 45,000 condoms have been distributed to more than 900 high-risk trans people through 15 targeted prevention outreach interventions. Moreover, a total of 1.770 transgender women who regularly engage in sexual work have been reached and provided with prevention information in metropolitan areas all over the nation where they offer their services.
Lessons learned: HIV prevention efforts targeting the transgender community are much more effective when delivered by peers with the support and training of a transgender-based organization. Promotion and expansion of peer training activities provided valuable feedback about specific needs and niches within the transgender communtiy, which helped broaden the scope of services offered by OTRANS and improve the delivery of prevention messages to the target population.
Next steps: Strengthen transgender-based organizations so that they can reach their own community in their social contexts. Promote the training and empowerment of transgender women nation-wide through peer-based prevention and education.


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