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From Chile

Indigenous communities take their place in the HIV battle

The ILO and indigenous communities in Chile team up to battle discrimination and implement HIV guidelines in the transport sector.

Feature | 16 April 2013
Willy Morales, representative of the Huilliche peoples
SANTIAGO (ILO News) – Chile’s indigenous communities are joining with the International Labour Organization (ILO), to roll out a nationwide initiative to prevent HIV and eliminate discrimination in the transport sector.

“An indigenous person in Chile is born with stigma and discrimination – if we add the topic of AIDS, there’s a double discrimination,” explains Willy Morales, a representative of the Huilliche peoples, who is living openly with HIV and who helped set up a network of indigenous peoples affected by the epidemic.

The ILO approached Morales’ organization, the National Network of Original Peoples in Response to HIV/AIDS (RENPO in Spanish), in November 2010, to involve them in the development and implementation of an HIV policy for the transport sector.

An indigenous person in Chile is born with stigma and discrimination – if we add the topic of AIDS, there’s a double discrimination."
“When we started working with Chile’s Ministry of Labour and Social Provision to develop national tripartite guidelines on HIV in this sector, it was logical and natural to involve the indigenous peoples and to give them a voice in the process,” explains Guillermo Miranda, Director of the ILO office for the Southern Cone of Latin America.

Ensuring truck drivers have the info

A significant number of indigenous people work in the transport sector, which is very important to the livelihoods of their communities and to Chile’s national economy. Truck drivers travel thousands of kilometres, and experience long separations from family and friends, as well as limited access to HIV information and health services, which means they can be highly vulnerable to the epidemic. Indigenous drivers face the extra challenges of poverty and discrimination and, crucially, a lack of HIV-prevention materials in their own languages.

To make information accessible to this audience, the ILO had its HIV and AIDS Recommendation, 2010 (No. 200), translated into Mapudungun – an indigenous language spoken by the Mapuche peoples. This is the first time this Recommendation has been translated into an indigenous language in the Americas.

As Mapudungun is mostly spoken rather than written, the Recommendation has been made available on DVD and widely disseminated in community meetings; it has also been broadcast on local radio and television stations in Morales’ home island of Chiloé, in southern Chile.

“We value the implementation of the ILO’s Recommendation No. 200 in Chile and the effort to reach the indigenous communities of our country with the message in our mother tongue, [we value] the respect that we as people deserve,” says Morales.

Eric Stener Carlson with Willy Morales
“Translating the ILO standard on HIV and the world of work was a springboard for involving the indigenous community in the development of the national transport guidelines,” explains Eric Stener Carlson, ILO HIV/AIDS Specialist for South America. “From that point on, we involved indigenous peoples throughout the policy drafting process, and we’re continuing to work with them to apply it,” he added.

Breaking down stereotypes

Over the last year, representatives of indigenous communities have been working with transport partners to develop The Road to Respect, an ILO educational manualaimed at breaking down stereotypes. This key resource was launched in December 2012 and includes an introduction and special chapter written by RENPO to give an indigenous perspective.

RENPO highlights the importance of respecting the culture and values of indigenous peoples when working together on HIV prevention. This includes looking at the world in a holistic way, an acceptance of sexual diversity, and the idea that HIV affects the entire community, not just the person living with HIV.

“Efforts to build bridges have already resulted in an integration of indigenous peoples and their visions in multiple meetings of the trucking sector on HIV in Chile,” says Carlson.