Caleb Orozco, Belize
Caleb Orozco. I'm from Belize. I am the president of the United Belize Advocacy Movement. We're the only MSM organization in the country. We were inspired by a multicentric study in development, and we've never looked back since 2006.
What's life like in Belize? It depends upon your age group and your class group. For [those in] the age group of 18 to 24 who are closeted or who are HIV positive, the experiences are different.
Right now I have a client who is 18 years old. He developed AIDS only three months [after testing HIV positive]. He also has herpes and the person he loved gave it to him deliberately.
He has to pretend with his mom that he got [HIV] from a woman because his mom is homophobic and so is his father. He has to pretend to be straight with his church group because they also have homophobic issues, being non-denominational and evangelical in nature.
But what's interesting about him is his character. He has been honest enough to tell all of his partners that he has slept with that they have been exposed, that they need to go get tested. That is an amazing accomplishment for somebody who's 18 years old! He also looks forward to staying in school. My organization is helping him with food support to ensure that he finishes school.
Of course, there are the other character issues. He tends to vomit to try and keep thin -- bulimic-type symptoms. He drinks [alcohol] once in a while, even on an empty stomach, or doesn't eat [in order] to keep his figure, as he would say. So all those issues we have to deal with in terms of that one person, as it is his life on the street.
I personally try to treat my relationship with each person as a partnership. You do your part, I do your part, and we'll be fine.
There's another person who is a client, but who also works with me as an educator. He got infected from a tattoo. Somebody was HIV positive and used a contaminated needle to infect him. He actually just [had his] sexual debut about a year ago.
What has happened is that even though he doesn't have his parents around, he has family -- his sisters -- and they're very supportive. He himself is taking it upon himself to seek out a PWHA [people with HIV/AIDS] support group to educate himself about what's going on. What I asked him to do was to be a peer educator for that other client we have. His commitment is to text him regularly and to keep him informed and to keep his hopes up, because they live in two separate parts of the country.