Laurindo Garcia has always been promoting the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex community. He founded the HIV Advocates as a global initiative that will bolster the human rights movements in fighting HIV/AIDS. While LGBT health is not limited to HIV, addressing the discrimination and stigma that the LGBT community is facing is important in order to improve HIV prevention, treatment, and overall health of the members of the community.
The HIV Advocates founder shared that being diagnosed HIV positive in 2004 was a vital moment in his life. He has experienced the discrimination and stigma that HIV positive patients had to endure, especially those who are part of the LGBT community. Because of what he has experienced, his perspective in life changed. He felt that there’s a need for someone within the community to stand up and take action against the inequalities. He didn’t want to be a bystander anymore, and that’s why he created the HIV Advocates.
Aside from HIV Advocates, Laurindo also created the B-Change. It is an international social enterprise organization that promotes change through social media and the Internet. He said that young members of the LGBTI community are more active online. That’s why social, health, and legal services must try to become more technology-savvy to engage with the younger demographic.
At present, most of the reproductive health and sexual services are delivered through the public health system. The problem is that young members of the LGBTI community would face discrimination or stigma when they seek help. This is usually the case in emerging and developing countries.
By the year 2018, Laurindo is confident that his organization will be able to identify several methods to connect the youth with support and care that they need through the Internet and social media. These methods will help improve LGBTI health as a whole, and not just those suffering from HIV/AIDS.
As for HIV Advocates, Laurindo wants health providers to do their job without any discrimination or prejudice. This is the top priority of HIV Advocates. The AIDS epidemic has been around for more than 30 years, and yet a lot of people are still losing their lives to HIV because they can’t receive proper treatment. Aside from the young members of the LGBTI, other groups that face discrimination and prejudice include sex workers, drug users, migrants, and prisoners.
The goal of HIV Advocates is to unite everyone in the fight against HIV/AIDS. People should open their minds and realize that the AIDS epidemic is not just a LGBTI problem. It is a human problem, and people should consider that everything’s possible if everyone is working together. There is no us and them in the fight, but only we.
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