Hierarchy can be used as a powerful change agent in military and police settings. That is the key principle behind Avanzada COPRECOS LAC, an HIV/STI prevention project within Latin America and the Caribbean, working with Ministries of Defense and funded by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. The project, for which CAI is the principal recipient, uses hierarchy and chain of command to change norms around condom use and HIV/STI prevention, as well as stigma and discrimination and gender equity.
Now operating in 11 countries, Avanzada COPRECOS LAC has grown to cover 275 military and police bases, and the total population reached is well over 100,000 uniformed service personnel. Launched in 2011 in six countries -- Colombia, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Panamá, Paraguay and the Dominican Republic -- the project expanded to Peru, Brazil, Argentina, Guatemala and Uruguay in 2012. To date, the project has been highly successful in terms of services provided and systems change accomplished. For example, in 2012, all countries completed the integration of an HIV/STI prevention curriculum into academies of the Armed Forces and police. In December 2012, the project conducted a first-ever Support for Positives workshop in all 11 countries, with persons living with HIV/AIDS, medical personnel and high command attending. At the workshop, participants identified mutual goals for increasing care and medical access for uniformed personnel living with HIV/AIDS.
Over the past two years, more than 300 peer educators have been trained to distribute HIV/AIDS prevention materials and over 2.5 million condoms have been distributed on military bases and in police stations. Further, the project has completed baseline studies - a total of over 6,000 active military and police personnel in eight countries - to provide an initial statistical point from which to measure the impact of the project and help evaluate the health and needs of the target population. All participating countries will have their own baselines by early 2013, which will be the first regional data of its kind.
Click here to learn more about the Avanzada COPRECOS LAC project.