Promoting Key Populations Sensitivity in El Salvador

By Alexander Perez May 9, 2018

Coauthored by Alexander Perez and Rita Isabel Lechuga

In February 2018, NASTAD collaborated with the Ministry of Health’s National HIV Program to hold a Key Populations Sensitivity Training workshop in San Salvador, El Salvador. NASTAD Global Program staff, Juan Flores, Alexander Perez, and Dr. Rita Isabel Lechuga joined health navigators from sites across San Salvador to share, learn, and explore concepts around sexuality, gender identity, and discrimination and how they affect adequate data capture and collection. The purpose of the workshop was to survey the current state of the HIV epidemic in El Salvador, while also imparting the importance of sensitivity towards key populations as a way of improving HIV surveillance and data quality. Additionally, the workshop provided an opportunity to better understand perceptions around key populations and their relationships to the HIV epidemic in a much more humanizing way. 

The one-day interactive pilot workshop received support from the Ministry’s National HIV/AIDS Program advisor, Dr. José Salvador Sorto Chacón, and participation from his colleagues at the Monitoring and Evaluation Unit. While the bulk of the content was evidence-based, activities and group discussions allowed participants to freely and safely share their personal experiences of working with or belonging to key population groups. These interactive sessions opened the floor for mindful discussions around prejudices, stigma, and discrimination in the workplace and how they impact HIV care and information gathering.  

In the coming months, NASTAD will be collaborating with El Salvador’s National HIV/AIDS Program to help strengthen its HIV information systems through provision of technical assistance, focusing on its electronic HIV/AIDS Epidemiological Surveillance System (SUMEVE). Given the success of this pilot workshop, we will be developing another key populations workshop for Ministry of Health staff as a way of increasing sensitivity and understanding around vulnerable groups and improving overall data quality. NASTAD looks forward to continued collaboration with El Salvador and hopes to bring the workshop to other countries in the region as a way of strengthening the HIV response, promoting inclusion, combating stigma, and ultimately, ending the epidemic.