HIV/AIDS prevention and the battle against stigma and homophobia in a rural city of Mexico; the case of the Club Gay Amazonas in Tenosique
Background: The Club Gay Amazonas was created in 1996 by a group of gay men, some transvestites or transgender, as a space for sociability, a location from which to engage in dialogue with the authorities and institutions and as a means to confront the AIDS epidemic that began to affect the people in the community in the early 90s. This club works in the city of Tenosique in the state of Tabasco, Mexico, with 30,000 inhabitants, a route for migrants and a military base with 5,000 soldiers.
Methods: Field work was conducted during 18 months, and two research techniques were employed: in-depth interviews with 30 informants from the city including members of the Club, politicians and community leaders, and participant observation centered on the activities of the Club, its prevention activites among the MCM, the military and sexual workers and the ways in which they confront stigma and homophobia.
Results: The work of AIDS prevention done by Club Gay Amazonas has been conducted on three fronts: the circulation of information about the epidemic and prevention methods, help for the people who live with HIV or AIDS, and community work to confront stigma and discrimination. These three fronts were created and adapted for a rural context in which traditional ways of conceiving sexuality and sexual identities coexist with other more modern ones.
Conclusions: Thus, the Club has emphasized a dialogue with the political and health authorities that has led to a modification in the treatment given to gay or bisexual citizens on the part of state institutions, thus extending the work of AIDS prevention to the vulnerable groups of the city.
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