Fabián Medina Cabrera
This profile was prepared when Fabián Medina Cabrera was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2002.
The New Idea
Medical advances have made it possible for people with HIV/AIDS to live for longer than was previously possible. Living well with a potentially terminal disease, however, requires access to the best healthcare available and a supportive social structure, both of which are related to gainful, productive employment. In Colombia, Fabián helps people with HIV/AIDS reintegrate into the workplacea step fundamental to their pursuit of healthy, meaningful lives. His program sets up small businesses that teach marketable skills to people with HIV/AIDS, making them feel useful, providing them with an income, and linking them to healthcare services. Fabián also involves his clients' families in the businesses to help restore family ties that may have been damaged by the revelation of an HIV infection. And where necessary, he sets up homes where those who remain estranged from their families can live in an environment of affection and encouragement. By creating a model employment environment that demonstrates that people living with HIV/AIDS can productively contribute to society, Fabián is challenging prevailing attitudes toward the illness and establishing a social place to advocate for better public healthcare and services.