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