A Collaborative Initiative between Most At-Risk Populations (MARPs) and the Public Sector through Community Strengthening to Scale Up Panama's National Response to HIV

The project sought to reduce the sexual transmission of HIV in MARPs through the use of evidence based interventions and promising practices for Most At-Risk Populations. The goal was to increase the organizational capacities of MARP groups to ensure comprehensive response to the HIV epidemic and guarantee protection of human rights through promotion of public policies.

In particular, CAI contributed to the promotion of behavior change among MARPs regarding HIV prevention, stigma and discrimination, and gender equity, through the implementation of enhanced outreach education and social marketing of appropriate educational material.

CAI partnered with the Ministry of Health, NGOs and civil society to increase access to and uptake of voluntary counseling and testing services for MARPs by establishing a system for community-based voluntary counseling and testing, training of government health care providers, and ensuring quality of services provided to target population. Healthcare providers play a significant role in the provision of HIV prevention services to their clients. In order to ensure that MARPs received culturally competent services, CAI provided specialized trainings for healthcare providers; and this improved their competency to provide services to MARPs by providing a safe and respectful environment.

CAI contributed to the development of leadership and sustainability through the creation of a Human Rights coalition to advocate for MARPs rights. Key activities included developing agreements with private sector on workplace issues, establishing guidelines for health care providers on services that are friendly to the targeted groups, and training most at risk individuals to register complaints with local authorities.