Ten Years Fighting HIV/AIDS and Reaching Out to Gays

Published: October 12, 2010

HAVANA, Oct 12, 2010 (IPS) – Raúl Regueiro remembers every detail about the creation, 10 years ago in Cuba, of the project for the prevention of HIV/AIDS among men who have sex with men, and the way the initiative crossed the boundaries of purely health-related concerns to address the question of social inclusion.

"Although homosexuality had been mentioned before, up to that point no work had been done with men," Regueiro told IPS. A co-founder of the project, Regueiro’s idea is now applied in 14 provinces on the island and involves around 1,700 volunteer health outreach workers who act as direct links with Cuban communities.

"It was the first time the people most affected by HIV/AIDS participated in a programme that was focused on educating people and on other aspects as well," recalls Regueiro, who is now assistant to the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) programme to combat HIV in this Caribbean island nation.

"By using peer education as a tool, men who have sex with men (MSM) themselves urged each other to practice safe sex," said Regueiro, who was at the meeting that founded the MSM-Cuba programme in August 2000, at the National Centre for Prevention of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and HIV/AIDS.

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