Rampant murder, high-risk behavior, and low HIV testing rates make Colombia a very dangerous place for the LGBT community.

While its vast natural beauty and bustling cities make it a jewel of South America for tourists, those that live and work there struggle just to make it to another day.

A new effort to reach Colombia’s marginalized communities is underway, thanks to South Florida support. Unity Coalition|Coalición Unida (UC) says outreach to Latinx|Hispanic and Indigenous LGBTQ+ often falls short because they are hard to reach and help is often inconsistent. To bridge this gap, UC is launching the SABER ES PODER|KNOWING IS POWER campaign. They want to reach out to transgender and non-binary, sex workers, homeless, gay men, and people of color. UC has worked in South Florida for 20 years and in Bogota since 2019.

The statistics are devastating. UC says between January 2014 and June 2019, 542 LGTI were murdered in Colombia. HIV in men who have sex with men is as high as 24% in some parts of the country, with major cities including Cali and Bogotá leading the way. Less than a third say they’ve ever been tested for HIV.

UC says health education for inner-city trans sex workers is desperately needed, and they’ve already begun to provide basic services, including health kits and hot meals. Many have no family support or access to even basic healthcare.

UC’s launching a multi-pronged approach to the festering crisis. They are launching a social media campaign over popular platforms including Instagram and TikTok. PSAs will run on TV and online, and they’re developing partnerships with local governments to bridge cultural and social divides.

For more on UC’s work, visit UnityCoalition.org.