Awarded a NEF Scholarship, is studying at the University of California School of Nursing Masters of Science Adult /Geriatric Nurse Practitioner Program in San Francisco. Fifteen years ago he was forced to leave Colombia, his native country because he was being persecuted for his sexual orientation, and for working with people living with HIV and AIDS. At the time, he volunteered at a non-profit organization where he counseled people living with HIV and AIDS and their families. He was struck by the discrimination and stigmatization towards people living with HIV and AIDS. Because of their HIV status, many of the individuals he served were marginalized by their families and society, often dealing with isolation, trauma, and poverty. Most disturbing was that people with HIV and AIDS did not have access to health care. As a gay man with first hand experience of discrimination and isolation, Carlos knew he could impact the lives of these individuals living with HIV and AIDS.
A couple of years ago, he had the opportunity to travel to India with an interdisciplinary team of nurses, physicians and social workers. The purpose of the trip was to address socio-cultural barriers of homophobia and HIV- stigma to HIV and AIDS prevention with men who have sex with men (MSM). The experience of this trip, combined with his personal experiences of discrimination and stigmatization as a gay man in Colombia, have instilled in him the desire to enhance his clinical skills with an emphasis on being able to practice in different cultural settings. He would like to be able to share models of care with health care providers in different parts of the world, where social and cultural norms increase the gap around access to health care.
Carlos’s future goal is to work internationally, especially in places where HIV-stigma and homophobia are pervasive and impact the quality of life for people living with or at risk for HIV and AIDS. He would like to be able to support the delivery of clinical services within an integrated system of health care to advance health access for disenfranchised individuals. He would like to have an impact on the quality of life for people living with or at risk for HIV and AIDS: “We must provide access to high quality care free of stigma and discrimination to underserved communities regardless of sexual orientation, race, gender, ethnicity, and social class here in the United States and abroad.”