Me and My Healthcare Provider: The champions

Me and My Healthcare Provider celebrates the many doctors, nurses, receptionists, pharmacists and other frontline healthcare providers who are #DoingTheRightThing by delivering quality HIV prevention, treatment and care services to key populations, often in the face of discriminatory laws, traditions and belief systems.

The campaign was launched by Sir Elton John and the IAS at the 21st International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2016) in Durban, South Africa, by honouring healthcare providers from four different countries: Belize, Cameroon, Peru and Ukraine.

The 2016 healthcare provider champions

From left to right: Martha Angelica Carrillo (awardee), Erika Castellanos

Erika Castellanos nominated Martha Angelica Carrillo for her work providing pro bono counselling services as an independent counselor and promoting human rights for the LGBT community in Belize. “Her services in counselling are frequently the only available in the country,” said Erika. “Anal sex is illegal in Belize and it is very difficult for gay and trans persons to access services. Therefore, she becomes vital to the development and well-being of the LGBT community in our country.”

Martha Angelica Carrillo: I am #DoingTheRightThing because… “I recognized the urgent need to address human rights violations, stigma and discrimination and barriers in access to services for the LGBT community. I would not wait for persons outside of our community to take the lead. I needed to become educated, I needed to be empowered and I needed to push myself into decision-making positions to ensure that MSMs and transgender persons were no longer made susceptible to HIV infection by social, legal and psychological barriers.”

From left to right: Kevin Ambah Evina, Dr. Hermine Meli (awardee), Floribert Biombi A. Kiki

Kevin Ambah Evina and Floribert Biombi A. Kiki nominated Dr. Hermine Meli from the Yaoundè Central Hospital, for providing HIV testing and sexual healthcare services to men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender people in Cameroon. “Dr. Hermine Meli is our gay-friendly service provider,” they said. “Both MSM and transgender people feel secure with her. Dr. Hermine’s telephone number is always open to do general consultation for the community. In some cases, she provides services for free for some MSM who lack financial resources.”

Dr. Hermine Meli: I am #DoingTheRightThing because… “MSM are seriously marginalized in their families, and in society. Interventions and actions to prevent and treat HIV and sexually transmitted infections are not adapted to this group of the population. The law is against people who practice homosexuality. This leads to the low utilization of health services because gay men and female transgender people are afraid of being denounced, and also because they are very poor.”

From left to right: Jana Villayzan, Dr. Hector Javier Salvatierra (awardee)

Jana Villayzan nominated Dr. Javier Salvatierra Flores for providing inclusive services for transgender women and men in Peru. “In the year 2000, Dr. Javier Salvatierra from the Reference Center for Sexually Transmitted Infections Alberto Barton in Lima, was the first person to include in the medical history form the social names of transgender women, the names with which we identify,” said Jana. “I was one of them and this strengthened my self-esteem when receiving sexual health services. He also formulated a first protocol of health and care aimed at trans women engaged in sex work. Dr. Salvatierra also formulated a guideline for attention in sexual health services for trans women.”

Dr. Javier Salvatierra Flores: I am #DoingTheRightThing because… “My medical training was formed around the service to people. In university I actively participated in health campaigns aimed at people with less economic resources and in the most remote places of the city. And as a medical doctor I treat my patients as if they were my family; I always give personalized attention to make sure my patient is comfortable.”

From left to right: Igor Matkovskiy, Dr. Oleksandr Yurchenko (awardee), Dzmitry Filippau

Igor Matkovskiy and Dzmitry Filippau nominated Dr. Oleksandr Yurchenko for his leadership providing inclusive services for LGBT patients at Kyiv City Clinical Hospital No. 5 in Ukraine. “Under Alexander’s leadership, the hospital strives to ensure that LGBT people who seek help and support from public health institutions are not discriminated against and receive appropriate health services in a safe and hospitable environment,” said Dzmitry. “The hospital has adopted a policy of non-discrimination, as recommended by the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association, conducts relevant training for all physicians, and makes sure all LGBT patients are aware of this policy.”

Dr. Oleksandr Yurchenko: I am #DoingTheRightThing because… “It is impossible to accept a situation where people are in a critical state of health due to blatant stigma from doctors. Quality medicine is not an island paradise for the elite.”

Partners and sponsors

The IAS would like to thank the Elton John AIDS Foundation for their generous support to the Me and My Healthcare Provider campaign.