Erick Murayari, CAB Member, ACSA
Iquitos CRS, Iquitos, Peru
Activist and founder of the Homosexual Community Esperanza Loreto Region (CHERL)
When I began in 1998, discrimination was very high, and the HIV/AIDS pandemic had a great impact on our community. Many friends, and acquaintances died, abandoned, without treatment. Many of them went to the shelter "Something Beautiful for God" for medical and human service attention, but the needs could not be covered, so this was motivation to help friends and get involved. Erick, affectionately known as “Guada” (Erick goes by he/him or she/her) began to work in different efforts, as a small and visible representative within the community.
In 2003, Erick along with others decided to form an alternate organization called, "Homosexual Community Esperanza Region Loreto" (CHERL), and, “…during these times, you could not dress as a woman because of discrimination and hatred, including thrown stones and homophobia and stigmatization. It was believed that we (LGBT people) were all carriers of AIDS. Before that we armed ourselves with courage to defend our rights, defend human rights, and have a political and social impact on our community,” says Erick. This commitment led her to volunteer for the research work carried out in Iquitos by the Asociación Civil Selva Amazónica y HVTN. Erick adds, "We won spaces at the cost of effort and courage; some media even invited us to introduce ourselves as weird beings or mocked us, but with perseverance and good arguments we won little by little the respect of the community". The work and perseverance has resulted in progress however, "…now we are invited to universities, we are interviewed, including the Technical School of Police. Those who chased us before now invite us to give conferences with the police students. Erick Murayari, with his experience and perseverance, is now a member of the Community Advisory Committee of the ACSA CRS, where his contributions are valued and appreciated, "We follow the efforts into a vaccine for HIV prevention, this is very important. Unfortunately the pandemic is maintained and the face of HIV is getting younger. Now the population in general is involved and we will continue in the effort because I am convinced that with the organization and work we will overcome barriers, overcome difficulties and work for a better world and future for all."