Health promotion and STD/HIV/AIDS prevention strategies among Brazilian transvestites: the Ministry of Health invited transvestites belonging to social networks to suggest possible ways of preventing STD/HIV/AIDS in that segment of the population
Presented by Juny Kraiczyk (Brazil).
Ministery of Health, Prevencion, Brasília, Brazil
Issues: In addition to their carefully groomed bodies and dazzling handbags they have brought with them long, accumulated experience as protagonists of actions to combat violence, stigma and vulnerability to HIV/AIDS
Description: In workshops that made use of creativity, street art, grafitti and videos the participants delineated new features of the epidemic scenario among transvestites. Revealing the dynamics of their networks, their territoriality and identities were just some of the products achieved through the use of those media. Debates, gestures, expressions and political postures helped to gain an approximation of the segment's needs for certain prevention, assistance and health promotion strategies. Based on the products of the workshops and debates, campaign, educational and prevention materials were developed and the dialogue between administrators, professionals and the segment itself was reinforced. The process made it clear how important it is to understand the social locus occupied by transvestites and the extent to which that locus challenges the logic of the binary schemes “masculine and feminine” and “heterosexual and homosexual”. The narratives reveal how living the transvestite life means taking the risk of living on the edge, which, as one transvestite put it, ultimately means “experiencing the pain and the delight of knowing who we really are”.
Lessons learned: The process that relegates transvestites to the category of marginalized individuals needs to be de-constructed. The way they interect with and circulate in society poses serious threats to their health and gives new depths and meaning to the concept of vulnerability in the context of combating HIV/AIDS.
Next steps: Define the level and distribution of HIV incidence and risk behaviour among transvestites.Overcome the dearth of information and systematize the experience acquired in the various interventions directed at this public.Confront the legal, cultural and social impediments that hinder the implementation of prevention actions for this group.
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