Lupus in Latin America:
Racism, Invisibility and Lack of Care

South American journalists to report on Covid impact in underserved communities for project supported by HSF grant

Alice de Souza

Jhoandry Suárez

Zoila Antonio Benito

Hector Villa León

A team of journalists from South America has been awarded a Historias Sin Fronteras reporting grant for a project on the disproportionate impact that lupus has on women of color and the ways that Covid-19 has affected the availability of much-needed treatment.

InquireFirst, in partnership with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), awarded the grant to the South American team comprised of:

Zoila Antonio Benito, a specialist in gender journalism, human rights coverage and fact-checking. Zoila is the founder and director of La Antígona, a news site in Perú that focuses on women and LGBTIQ+ issues. She has worked as a copy editor and editor of the web site of Diario La Republica (Perú), she has reported in Mexico, Chile, Argentina, Colombia, Perú, the United States, the UK and Spain. She has also participated in cross-border investigations.

Alice de Souza, a Brazilian journalist who is editor and coordinator of the Énois Journalism Laboratory and is a researcher for the Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism (Abraji). For the past 10 years, Alice has worked as a reporter at Diario de Pernambuco, where she specializes in issues ranging from urban development to human rights to health. Her work has been published in The Intercept Brasil, Agência Pública, El Pais Brasil and Vice News.

Jhoandry Suárez, fact-checker for Colombiacheck and writer for La Vida de Nos. In 2019, Jhoandry founded the news website Venezuela Al Minuto, which now has more than 50,000 followers. He received a fellowship from Internews Health Journalism Network for Solutions Journalism for a project on access for pregnant migrant women to maternity care in Colombia.

Héctor Villa León, a Venezuelan journalist based in Perú who is the co-founder of the journalism project Cápsula Migrante, which provides information to the migrant community living in Perú. Since 2020, Héctor has collaborated with the website Venezuela Migrante, where he tells the stories of migration and human rights.  He is the recipient of a Facebook Journalism Project fellowship from the Entrepreneurial Journalism Creator program at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York (CUNY).

In response to our call for proposals on biomedical research in Latin America and/or metabolic disorders, Historias Sin Fronteras received several outstanding proposals from teams of journalists throughout Latin America.

In selecting the South American proposal, the judges said, “We were drawn to this proposal’s focus on the disproportionate impact lupus has on women of color.”

They commented that the cross-border team of journalists made a “strong pitch that brings three South American countries together with the angle of looking at underserved communities, migrants and Afro Latinas,” including the implications of a reduced supply of the much-needed medication hydroxychloroquine due to a global misinformation campaign about its effectiveness again Covid-19.  

The project “gives an opportunity to put a face on those patients who really benefit from the drug,” the judges said.

The project will be published in May 2022.

Iván Carrillo, a Mexico-based science editor and writer and co-founder of Historias Sin Fronteras, will serve as project editor. Iván is a 2021 National Geographic Explorer and he is a member of the 2016-2017 generation of the Knight Science Journalism Fellowship at MIT. He is a contributor to National Geographic and the Latin American editions of Newsweek and has collaborated with the Discovery Channel and CNN en Español.

InquireFirst will be issuing a new call for proposals in April for a multimedia cross-border project on any science, health or environment subject.

By supporting this regional initiative, InquireFirst and HHMI’s Department of Science Education aim to convene, inspire and encourage the work of science writers in Latin America.


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