L@AS CONDONER@S. Drag-queens as an effective outreach strategy for promoting rapid voluntary testing among key populations
J.A. Arias Velasco, B. Sol Eva, A. Gómez
Colectivo Sol a.c., D,F., Mexico
Issues: Updated epi-data on HIV prevalence among key populations (KPs): gay men and other MSM, trans people, sex workers, sexually active teenagers and IDUs is needed to document and orient appropriate prevention and care interventions. Traditional reluctance to testing by these KPs is being overcome through good-humored, non-threatening and friendly outreach strategies.
Description: L@s Condoner@s, a troupe of trained health, prevention and human rights campaigners characterized as drag-queens promotes free voluntary and confidential rapid testing among KPs. L@s Condoner@s troupe vists sites frequented by KPs and uses humor, lively interactive sketches, role plays, games, quizzes and music to reduce fear, stress and resistance, to convey prevention messages and to convince people to test. Preliminary information on the importance of knowing one's HIV status precedes face-to-face counseling provided under a closed tent to ensure confidentiality. Positive results are given in presence of a government health worker, who takes on the case for appropriate follow-up. L@s Condoner@s also shares the methodology to other groups who want to implement this type of promotion.
Lessons learned: Promotion of voluntary and confidential rapid testing through non-threatening approaches guarantees an easier acceptance of prevention messages by reducing fear and rejection; it helps people who suspect contact with HIV to test, and attracts interest from community groups who want to emulate this prevention model. Close collaboration with local health services is a key element of the strategy. Up to date, three other initiatives based on L@s Condoner@s have been created in Mexico. Close collaboration between community initiatives and government health workers ensures appropriate follow-up of positive cases.
Next steps: Currently L@s Condoner@s is actively traveling around Mexico promoting rapid testing, training and transferring the prevention model to other community groups.
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