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Mexico Fights AIDS by Fighting Stereotypes

Mexico has one of the lowest HIV-infection rates in all of Latin America, at 0.3 percent of the adult population. Unfortunately, the low rate doesn't apply to sex workers or men who have sex with men. Fifteen percent of gay men in Mexico are infected, and sex workers, whose profession is legal in Mexico, often must decide between using protection or making more money without, either way gambling with their survival.

NPR recently spoke with those trying to improve the situation in Mexico by reducing the stigma. They say it's hard to get sex workers to talk about protection, since an environment of poverty and distrust makes them suspect that those offering condoms want something in return.

As for helping the gay community, Mexico has launched TV and radio ads directed at reducing homophobia. As a result of discrimination, men who have sex with men are sometimes excluded from HIV prevention and care services. Hopefully the example set by Mexico, which hosted the Worlds AIDS Conference last month, can help other countries provide care and prevention tools to populations at greater risk of infection.


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