Activism towards respect and responding MSM’s needs in a conservative environment in Mexico
Issues: Guanajuato is an important geographical axis for conservatism in Mexico. Social and institutional morality is a big obstacle to give visibility to those individuals with different sexual orientation. Though HIV epidemic in Mexico is concentrated in MSM (83%), by early 2007 a community response with a proper approach towards this population was not identified. Governmental response was featured by not including specific interventions focused on attention, prevention, stigma and discrimination reduction or sexual and reproductive rights as well as human rights protection.
Description: a multi-disciplinary group was organized with 12 young people and created the first legal MSM Group. The base team received training on topics related to HIV, AIDS and STIs, stigma and discrimination; self-esteem, human rights, sexual and reproductive rights and lobbying activities. Dialogue with health and human rights authorities as well as educative institutions and other civil society organizations was established. The needs of this population become visible and institution support to obtain educative materials and prevention supplies was achieved. The activities focused on MSM were: informative squads, distribution of prevention supplies and prevention workshops, among others. A seat in the AIDS control and prevention local board was obtained.
Lessons learned: promotion and participation of key populations have a bigger impact in HIV prevention and stigma and discrimination reduction. An empowered community achieves interference with those authorities in charge of the HIV response.
Next steps: MSM communication and service offering need to be strengthened at the same time MSM’s denounces are set in the AIDS Board. Programs and actions against stigma and discrimination are a priority.
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