Isla HIV Testing and Education Campaign

Welcome, and thank you for taking a moment to check out our project: The 6th annual Isla HIV & Teen Pregnancy Prevention Campaign. This 4 day campaign, June 18-21, has 2 components: 1-To provide FREE, rapid HIV testing, as well as education and counseling. 2-Education programs in the public schools and community to help prevent teenage pregnancy.  Did you know that our neighboring state, Yucatan, has one of the HIGHEST rates of HIV infection in Mexico? Did you know that every HIV positive person who does not know their status, on average, passes HIV on to 4 other people before they are identified? Did you know that Isla Mujeres has the HIGHEST rate of teen pregnancy in the ENTIRE state of Quintana Roo?...This event is hosted once a year in Isla Mujeres by the non-profit group Fundación BAI A.C., Brazos Abiertos Yucatán. And Isla Mujeres is the ONLY location outside of the Yucatán (so far) where they have held campaigns. We are very fortunate and thankful that they will be returning to our island in Quintana Roo for a 6th year in a row, and with your support (One complete HIV test costs just $8.00usd!) we can make this an incredible success! Dr. Carlos Cabrera, the founder of Fundación BAI A.C. has provided all of the information below on the upcoming campaign below.

Who is Fundación BAI A.C., Brazos Abiertos Yucatán?
A registered non-profit corporation established in Yucatan, México since 2007, as well as a 501c3 non-profit in the US.

Brazos Abiertos means “Open Arms” in Spanish.
Our goals are:
*To decrease the spread of HIV and sexually transmitted diseases in Yucatán.
*To improve access to healthcare and improve the overall quality of life for those people already infected with HIV.

What we do:
*Conduct peer-to-peer HIV and safe sex workshops in the Mayan villages.
*Distribute free condoms anonymously.
*Offer free anonymous HIV testing for all persons.
*Offer pre- and post-HIV test counseling.
*Offer free medical channeling and monitoring.

BAI certified volunteers at the 2013 Isla Mujeres Campaign

We Help:
*Middle school and high school students and adults through our Education program.
*General local population and high risk groups through our HIV testing program.
*Implement HIV/sex education curriculum in middle schools and high schools throughout the Yucatán Peninsula.
*Channel HIV positive people into the local HIV treatment programs and monitor their state of health.
*Provide feedback to State and local health authorities through our involvement in the COESIDA – YUCATAN committee.
*Local universities and organizations become more aware of the HIV issues facing the citizens of the Yucatán Peninsula.
*By working with elected officials and their local, state, and federal agencies to implement community health fairs.

*Brazos Abiertos Yucatán has established a peer-on-peer education program called TEAMM (Teenage Education on AIDS in Mérida, México). U.S. high school and college students (TEAMM USA) facilitate HIV/AIDS workshops in the villages, and then return to Mexico again to train the local teenagers (TEAMM Yucatan) to teach the workshops themselves. Dr. Cabrera and his group of volunteers help facilitate the workshops, providing medical and health information and free HIV testing, and collect data to better understand the true impact of AIDS in the area.
*BAI offers free condoms wherever possible and free anonymous HIV testing, as well as pre and post HIV counseling.

Why is this campaign important for Isla Mujeres?:
I think it's important because for many years the statistics on the island did not show an increase of new HIV cases, however since 2 years ago, BAI started detecting people and between 2012 and 2013 a total of 3 people have been detected and linked to care. Additionally, we believe that by offering rapid HIV testing to people with counseling and educational components, we break down the barriers of fear and stigma and teach people that the test is the only way to know our HIV status. ***Education is the key to prevention.*** It is important that the community knows that HIV is present and it is here. People tend to ignore that they can have it, and it’s not for them to suspect who may have it. It’s rather to use awareness and action to respond to HIV/AIDS by changing risky practices, behaviors, and habits, use condoms, or have a stable partner who is also stable with them.

The people on Isla Mujeres who come to be tested are men and women, predominantly between 18 and 45 years old. Their economic status ranges from very low, low, and middle income. This is why it's important to provide FREE, rapid (you will get your test results in 10 minutes) HIV testing. One rapid HIV test costs us approximately $8.00usd. An HIV test in a private lab costs up to 500 pesos/$41.00usd, which can be a large sum of money for many. Our HIV testing is free and anonymous. You do have to sign a consent form in the privacy advisory as required by law. But you may do so with your real name or an alias. No ID is required.

One young man told me that he was so afraid to be tested at the local health center because of stigma and discrimination reasons, and if we hadn't we had tested him, we wouldn't have discovered he was HIV positive, and at this time would more likely be very ill.

Women are really receptive. They have expressed some concern because some of their husbands migrate to work in other areas, and when they come back, they cannot be totally sure that they have not engaged in risky practices. Women like to be taught and empowered about the correct use of the condom.

The local authorities have said that they really appreciate that we do this on the island, as we come from a different state to do this every year with dedicated volunteers.

BAI volunteers getting a ride to testing site from the local police during the 2013 Isla Mujeres Campaign

Workers at the local bars and restaurants have also expressed their gratitude for the offered services, because they do not often have people coming to their work to encourage them to be tested and to hand out condoms for free.

Volunteers at the 2013 Isla Mujeres Campaign conducting late night testing for those not available to come during the day due to work

What are some details of previous campaigns on Isla Mujeres?:
The first 2 years 100 people were tested, third 120, fourth 150, fifth 180, ***and we expect 300 this year as we have added an extra day to the campaign*** During 2013 we had a 5 month education program implemented in the schools. This year we will conduct a workshop in a middle school.

What other Isla Mujeres organizations has Fundación BAI A.C.  worked with in the past/present?:
We have worked with PEACE Isla, the Red Cross, the Ayuntamiento, and the Congress of the state of Quintana Roo. We have had government support from the very beginning but, this is the first time we have the mayor himself, Agapito Magaña Sanchez , involved and potentializing the efforts at a level not seen before.

L-R: Isla Mujeres Health Director Tharin Vital Casique, Red Cross doctor Xhanat Mora, Presidente Municipal de Isla Mujeres 2013-2016 Agapito Magaña Sanchez, and  Fundación BAI A.C., Brazos Abiertos founders Dr. Carlos Cabrera and Luca Cuturi during a successful planning meeting for the 2014 campaign

How does Fundación BAI A.C. provide support when someone tests positive on Isla Mujeres?:
I personally follow them up in regard to be enrolled in the system to receive ARV treatment and medical care, and am at their disposition whenever they have a medical or integrative care inquiry. We start our linkage to care protocol: We ask the person whether he or she has any type of medical insurance, IMSS, ISSSTE, Military or Seguro Popular, and depending on which they have we act accordingly. If they have none, we guide them through the steps of enrolling seguro popular, then gaining admission to the HIV clinic in Cancun. We assist them through all the process, establish a communication bridge with the island's Health Department to assist the person with ferry tickets and other incentives in order to facilitate them being adherent to their treatment and medical appointments. I become available 24/7 in case they have a medical inquiry and call them for the first 3 appointments to know their treatment and follow up plans.

An educational program at one of the public schools during the 2013 Isla Mujeres Campaign

Who will be on your Isla Mujeres team for this campaign?:
15 dedicated, committed, highly trained, and sensitive volunteers who work with BAI on a regular basis: 1 doctor, 1 nurse, 8 students (among them medical students), 2 interns from Canada and Sweden, and trained counselors. Our volunteers also wear several hats as promoters, counselors, linkers, educators, and coordinators. Local Isla Mujeres volunteers include: 1 nurse, 1 doctor who works at the Red Cross, the Health Director who is also a doctor (and staff from the Health Department who will help at the health fairs to offer different health services to the community and assist in HIV testing and counseling). We will also have University students participating who are attending the summer session at the Isla Mujeres Ethnographic Field School.

Why is your goal amount $5,000?:
We will need $1,000 for transportation of volunteers to/from Merida (taxis, buses, one car, ferries), $2,500 for 300 HIV test kits, $1,000 for other printed information/medical supplies/materials, $500 for food for volunteers. The volunteers will need to be on Isla 1 day before and after the campaign for set up/wrap up: a total of 6 days.

We would like to say THANK YOU to our generous island hosts who have donated rooms for the volunteers: Casa Sirena, Casa el Pio, and Ixchel condos (condo owners Dennis Louie, Sheryl Black & Lisa Martin), and Que Barbara Apartments. We would also like to extend a special thank you to Steven Broin of Casa Sirena for holding his annual Christmas fundraiser for Fundación BAI A.C. . And to local businesses who will be donating some meals for the volunteers: Due Torri, ComoNoRooster Café, Mamma Rosa, Casa Sirena, and the Municipal. And to Nan Lichty, Kodi Venable, and Chanel Hathaway Bryant for supplies donations! And of course to al of our Isla Mujeres volunteer commitee!


So, how can YOU help? You can help support this special Isla Mujeres clinic and save lives by making a donation (different donation methods available below)! ---Even a small $8.00usd donation will provide one complete HIV test!--- Please help us by supporting our program of testing, and prevention through outreach and education programs about teen pregnancy, sexually-transmitted infections (STI's), HIV and empowerment, as well as comprehensive support for those who test positive for HIV. ----We can’t do it without your help!---Together we can make a difference in our community through education and empowerment. Please join us! If you are unable to make a monetary donation, you can help us by SHARING, SHARING, SHARING this campaign on your social media-Getting the word out is key!! Additionally, if you would like to volunteer with Fundación BAI A.C., please contact Mark Callum [email redacted] for more information-He will welcome you with open arms!

A recent Pledge Night at Fundación BAI A.C. L-R: Dr. Carlos Cabrera, Sandy Kazim, Mark Callum.

1- You may donate with your credit card on this page! Note that you may use your name, your organization's or business' name,  or remain anonymous. (PLEASE NOTE: Do not choose “recurring monthly donation" on this page as donations will be deactivated on this site when the campaign is over. Please use their Paypal for recurring monthly donations: see below.)
2- Paypal: Please visit their website directly to make a Paypal donation at  ***IMPORTANT: Please include a note in your Paypal donation that states ISLA MUJERES CAMPAIGN***, and we will add your name (or anoymous if you prefer) and/or message on this page, and donation towards our overall goal!***
3 - In person in Isla Mujeres: Steve Broin has offered to accept cash donations (dollars or pesos) at Casa Sirena M-F 9am-12pm. The hotel is located in Centro on Av. Hidalgo between Bravo and Allende. Or in coordination with me, Sally Margolis-you may message me via this page! ***IMPORTANT: Please include a note with your donation with your name and email address (or anonymous)***, and we will add your name and/or message on this page, and donation towards our overall goal!***

Some of the Campaign Schedule (subject to changes):
June 18th: 10am press conference at city hall (and possibly signing an official agreement between BAI and the City of Isla Mujeres for the time of the current administration).
June 19th: 10am workshop in the public middle school. (And perhaps one for entire families, not just students.) 
Outreach promotion in the early evening.
June 20th: 10 am a group of volunteers will go to Rancho Viejo to offer rapid HIV testing and counseling as well as other health services in coordination with the Director of Health. 11am Conference at the 5th Navy Base (and testing to personnel who would like to be tested)
June 21st: 10am to 2 pm Annual testing and counseling campaign and health fair in coordination with other institutions, at the Domo in La Gloria.

***We would like to thank you for taking the time to read our campaign. With your help, we hope to reach our goal, and have an incredible campaign in Isla Mujeres!***

"Our volunteers are preparing and working out the last details for BAI's Annual HIV, STI's and teen pregnancy Education & Prevention Campaign, to be held this coming week on Isla Mujeres, Mexico. Thank you to all the wonderful people, sponsors, benefactors and supporters who are making this possible!" SEE PHOTOS BELOW

UPDATE: June 18. Fundacion BAI and Isla Mujeres signed an agreement for the campaign and to have programs in the public school for the duration of 2104!

UPDATE: June 19. A successful day of ducational workshops about HIV and teen pregnancy in the public secundaria school!

UPDATE: June 19. A great day at the Naval with a lecture by Dr. Carlos Carbrera and a Q&A session for Naval personnel. And volunteers doing educational workshops in the Rancho Viejo (continental zone of Isla Mujeres) secundaria school.

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