amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research

GRASSROOTS: The GMT Initiative Blog

Grassroots reports on the work of amfAR-supported research teams and advocates responding to the devastating impact of HIV among gay men, other men who have sex with men, and transgender individuals (collectively, GMT).

A Visit With DISAM in Tarapoto, Peru

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Posted by Benjamin Clapham, September 4, 2012

I am just leaving Tarapoto, Peru, a small town in the middle of the Peruvian jungle. I spent the past two days with Diversidad San Martinense (DISAM), a youth-led organization for and by gay men, other MSM, and transgender individuals (GMT). Peru is an interesting place in terms of government support for HIV programming for at-risk populations. Peru is one of just a few developing nations that have world-class researchers working with GMT, and the government is increasingly showing support for broader civil and human rights for these populations. Nevertheless, societal stigma and discrimination is rampant and still threatens access to vital services.


DISAM is receiving amfAR funding (through a grant from the Elton John AIDS Foundation)—the organization’s first ever official grant—to analyze gaps in health services for GMT and to work with health professionals in filling those gaps.

I attended a working lunch with the members of DISAM and 10 local policymakers, health professionals, local authorities, and other stakeholders to discuss the issues facing GMT in Peru. I was pleased to hear that several people in the room were concerned about security and were working with health personnel to increase access to testing and treatment. The objective of the meeting was to capitalize on the power and position of these stakeholders to get concrete plans in place for helping GMT in Peru. DISAM has already been able to get two orders passed in the San Martin Province that state that discrimination based on sexual identity and gender is not permitted in public places. Although these orders are not official laws, they mark positive first steps towards inclusive public policy in Peru for GMT. Alex, the director of DISAM, acknowledged that Peru is ahead of most countries in the region in terms of services and policies for GMT, and was optimistic that more changes were coming.

I left Peru with a great sense of pride. DISAM reminded me that a small group of people really can make a positive impact.

tu visita fue magnifica ben, como persona y como institucion esperamos que amfar y tu como persona nos viviten pronto.. cariños desde peru
Posted by: alex at 9/6/2012 11:51 PM

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