Erika Castellanos is a Transgender woman diagnosed with HIV in 1995. She started her work in HIV volunteering in hospices where she realized the need to be organized as a community to improve the quality and quantity of life of people living with HIV. Erika is the founder and Executive Director of C-NET+, the Collaborative Network of Persons Living with HIV, which is the first and only organization by and for people with HIV in Belize. In addition, Erika is an executive member of the Belize CCM, the Belize focal point in the Latin-American and Caribbean Network of Transgender People, an advisor for the Central American Network of People with HIV and now the representative in GNP+ for RedLa+, the Latin-American and Caribbean Network of People Living with HIV. Ms. Castellanos is studying Social Work at the University of Belize and has recently completed the certificate course in LGBT Health Research at the University of Pittsburgh as part of the amfAR scholarships program.
Erika wants to share her experiences in life as a Transgender woman living with HIV who has experienced homelessness, drug use, migration and sex work. She hopes to be able to inspire and support other women who might be experiencing similar situations.
Why Erika wants to be part of A Girl Like Me: During my path, I've met wonderful people that have touched my life and have been catalyst of change for me. Amazing people that were by my side when everyone else made fun of me and called me names, that opened their homes and gave me a meal when I was a migrant, that stayed by my side and gave me warmth when I was homeless, that believed in me and gave that extra push to achieve more among drugs, sex work and in prison! To all those angels in my life I want to say thank you! Now, it's my opportunity to give back. To share my story, to tell you: YOU ARE NOT ALONE! Hopefully I can inspire and be catalyst in the life of others. That is why I am here because, because maybe you are A GIRL LIKE ME!