Living library project on AIDS Memorial Day where the ‘books’ were real people with stories of their own to share © 2008 Alliance Ukraine Participants in the Photovioce project, India © 2006 Jenny Mathews / Alliance / Photovoice

Discrimination fuels the epidemic in Latin America


Aids Alliance
Transgender women and sex workers experience extreme stigma and discrimination in the Latin American region. This includes if they attempt to access public health services.

This situations fuels the HIV epidemic among sex workers and transwomen, by isolating them and driving them away from essential HIV prevention services.

With support from UK aid through the Latin American Partnership Programme Arrangement (2005-2010) the Alliance worked with these marginalised groups to increase their involvement in policies and access to programmes and services†.

With this aim, we worked two key networks in the region, Redlactrans (representing transwomen) and RedTraSex (representing sex workers).

We supported their aims to:

  • make authorities more accountable
  • have a greater voice in decision making
  • and reduce HIV-related stigma

Progress made

The networks have made great progress in their aims, and have increased significantly in size. In 2004, there were six national organisations of RedTraSex, in 2012 there were 15 - representing over 15,500 individual members across the region. Redlactrans has rapidly grown from a presence in three countries in 2008 to 17 in 2012.

RedTraSex has had unprecedented success in bringing change to national policies and local regulations that had a negative impact in the protection of sex workers' human rights and their access to HIV services. These successes include the repeal of local regulations that prohibited sex workers’ free circulation in Panama city and three states in Argentina, and replacing the stigmatising ‘Sex Workers Health Card’ in Ecuador for a ‘Comprehensive Healthcare Card’ which has increased access to health services.

Redlactrans’ advocacy focuses on gender identity legislation and was instrumental in the passing of the historic Gender Identity Law in Argentina, Uruguay and Mexico City. In addition, National AIDS programmes in Argentina, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Peru, Uruguay and Mexico, now include ‘friendlier’ services, access to HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention for key populations with specific attention to transgenders’ needs.

Uncertain future

The networks are strong. RedTraSex's track record has led to its receipt of a grant from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, which will help it scale up over the next five years. This is testament, not just to RedTraSex's accomplishments but also to why a fully funded Global Fund is essential. Most countries in the Latin America region are categorised as middle income, and are seeing international aid reduce. National governments are not fully funding targeted services for politically isolated groups, which is where services need to be in Latin America to effectively tackle the epidemic.

The work in Latin America highlights the importance of our 2012 World AIDS Day asks, which include:

  • Ensuring that the poorest and most marginalised are not the ones who pay the price when specific HIV programmes are ending, and
  • Making a human rights based approach central to HIV programming, and ensure the inclusion of key populations.
  • Fully funding the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria to ensure smart cost-effective investments in the HIV response.

Read more here >>


1. Download or flick through our World AIDS Report 2012:
Don’t Stop Now: Calling for a UK Blueprint to achieve an HIV-free generation >>

2. Add your voice: ?
Show your support by signing the email petition for a blueprint here >>

3. Read more about the Latin America Programme:
An independent evaluation was carried out and reported on the activities and successes >>

4. Watch:
Alliance Linking Organisations and people living with HIV talk about the Latin America programme >>

5. Watch ‘Like you’:
A video campaign against transphobia >>

†Through the Latin American Partnership Programme Arrangement, in addition to the two networks, we also worked with Portal SIDA and Corresponsales Clave, and all Alliance Linking organisations in the region received funding to work with key populations, including people living with HIV and gay men and other men with have sex with men. 


LAC Regional Programme