Hugo Sanchez Sarmiento, Lead Community Educator and Recruiter
San Marcos/UNIDEC CRS, Lima, Peru
My work on HIV began in the mid-90s. It was a time when HIV had reached the gay/trans community of Peru in a devastating and cruel way, taking the lives of dozens of friends in horrible ways. The life expectancy for a person with HIV was a few years because there was no antiretroviral treatment, there was not much information, and there was a lot of discrimination. This, together with the violence existing in the country toward our community, made it a period of dark and sad years. In '96 I decided that I wanted to learn more about HIV because I was sure there should be something to tell people that could give them hope and faith. That's how I discovered the world of scientific research. When I finished my degree in psychology, I decided to look for ways to transmit wellbeing to people. I worked for many years as a coordinator of recruitment, retention and community development, as well as counseling in HIV prevention and giving support to people living with HIV. I currently have my own organization called EPICENTRO, which is aimed at preventing HIV through culture, and I am a community educator at UNIDEC where we work in clinical trials. What moves and enthuses me to participate in the HVTN is the careful manner that its representatives have about what is related to the wellbeing of our community. From the use of a photo that makes everyone feel included, to the minute detail with which they review each clinical procedure, all this gives me hope that we can soon make a big change in the world.