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"this is our mantra" On this World Day of Social Justice, seven country representatives reflect on how LINKAGES' work is serving a greater purpose. Interviews by Aubrey Weber, FHI 360. Photographs provided by LINKAGES.

"Key populations often face stigma and discrimination in the health care setting, prohibiting them from accessing essential HIV services. Key populations cite negative attitudes, poor treatment, lack of confidentiality, and fear of disclosure of HIV status or sexual practices as reasons for not accessing services in public facilities. To address this issue and improve access of HIV services for these individuals, LINKAGES Botswana has partnered with the Ministry of Health and Wellness to sensitize and build the capacity of over 200 health care workers in six districts. They now provide stigma-free, key population-friendly services." - Wame Dikobe, country representative, LINKAGES Botswana

“A world without AIDS - this is our mantra. Together with our civil society, community, and government partners, LINKAGES Indonesia helps some of the country's most vulnerable people access education, products, and services that reduce the impact of HIV and AIDS on their lives. Intensified mobile HIV testing assists sex workers, transwomen, men who have sex with men, and people who use drugs so that they can conveniently learn their HIV status. Extended hours facilities help reduce barriers for those with busy schedules. Key population-friendly clinics make it easier for clients to receive stigma-free treatment and care. And, our collective advocacy efforts – for services like PrEP, self-testing, Test & Treat All, and the protection of key populations’ rights – emphasize equity, tolerance, and well-being for all.” - Caroline Francis, country representative, LINKAGES Indonesia

“To ensure key populations experience social justice in HIV programming, LINKAGES Haiti offers a package of HIV services with components of capacity-building and community empowerment for key populations, as well as opportunities for leadership and advocacy for HIV-related rights. We have recognized that stigmatization, discrimination, and violations against key populations’ rights are major barriers to implementing effective responses to HIV. LINKAGES Haiti is committed to protecting key populations’ rights by helping our society to create social and legal environments that encourage key populations to take up and use HIV services. Such efforts are essential to achieve universal access to HIV prevention, care, and treatment.” – Steeve Laguerre, country representative, LINKAGES Haiti

“LINKAGES Nepal works with female sex workers, men who have sex with men, male sex workers, and transgender people who are marginalized and especially vulnerable to stigma, discrimination, social exclusion, and gender-based violence. These key populations are at a higher risk of HIV and sexually transmitted infections. When they are HIV-positive, stigma, discrimination, and social exclusion are exacerbated. We believe that addressing these structural barriers through the creation of an enabling environment gives these populations access to the services they need to prevent the spread of HIV and sexually transmitted infections... and to live a long and healthy life.” - Bhagawan Shrestha, country representative, LINKAGES Nepal

“While Thailand is committed to ensuring that all of its citizens have equal access to health care (including HIV services), it remains crucial for countries with concentrated HIV epidemics to diversify and tailor services to address and accommodate the needs of key populations. LINKAGES Thailand promotes a key population-led health services model where key population individuals design and deliver HIV outreach activities and provide HIV counseling and testing, PrEP, and same-day antiretroviral treatment. We advocate for national policy to support self-testing and address stigma and discrimination in health care settings in order to increase access to services. LINKAGES Thailand collaborates with the Thai Ministry of Public Health and the Thailand National Health Security Offices to ensure sustainability and continuation of key population-led organizations’ involvement in providing these important HIV services through increased domestic financing and strengthening of local funding mechanisms.” – Sutinee (Joy) Charoenying, country representative, LINKAGES Thailand

"In my view, social justice is based on equality of rights and opportunity. It should be applied in the economic and social spheres based on situations of social inequality. Key populations are marginalized at large and in public institutions, hardly seeking basic health services at their fingertips for fear of being discriminated against and stigmatized. They often prefer not to seek these services because of the way health personnel treat them and how they direct their questions, leading to omission of information which makes it difficult for them to attend consultations and access antiretroviral treatment. The discrimination key populations have been subjected to every day in their communities is the reason why many of our patients give up... LINKAGES Angola has trained nine of the largest government-run hospitals on stigma and discrimination and how it affects the quality of services that key populations receive. This requires a personalized approach in delivering comprehensive [HIV and AIDS] services." - Rosario Nunes, senior technical advisor for HIV clinical services, LINKAGES Angola

"No meu ponto de vista a Justiça social é baseada na igualdade de direitos e de oportunidade. Deve ser vista no âmbito económico e social tendo como base às situações de desigualdade social. As populações chave são marginalizadas em toda a sociedade em geral e nas instituições públicas, dificilmente procuram os serviços básicos de saúde ao seu alcance com medo de serem discriminados e estigmatizados. Muitas vezes preferem não procurarem estes serviços devido a forma como o pessoal da saúde trata-lhes, como dirigem as perguntas isto leva a omissão de algumas informações por parte da nossa população chave dificultando a adesão as consultas e ao tratamento antiretroviral, isto tem sido uma das razões que muitos dos nossos pacientes desitem, vinculando com a discriminação que têm sido sujeito todos os dias na comunidade. Para diminuir a discriminação o Projecto Linkages formou os trabalhadores de 9 Unidades sanitárias sobre Estigma e discriminação as populações chave com a finalidade de prestarem os cuidados sanitários de qualidade. Isto requer uma abordagem personalizada na prestação de serviços de saúde específicos e completos para responder as necessidades das populações chave com maior realce no atendimento dos pacientes de VIH e SIDA." - Rosario Nunes, senior technical advisor for HIV clinical services, LINKAGES Angola

“Through LINKAGES Mali, I really experience a feeling of serving the community. It is not easy for a person who is targeted because they are a member of a key population and are HIV-positive. With our global project, we are reestablishing equal opportunity for every person in terms of health prevention, treatment, and access to care. We champion the key population community and are privileged for the role they play the fight against HIV. This idea – to keep key populations at the frontline of ending this epidemic for their own populations – breaks many barriers, even sometimes economics ones.” – Jules Bagendabanga, country representative, LINKAGES Mali

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