UN agencies have announced the 25 winners of the Red Ribbon Award 2008.

The United Nations Development Programme and the United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS announced the winners yesterday.

There were more than 550 nominations from 147 countries.

The award is designed to celebrate “Community Leadership and Action on AIDS,” and to recognise the communities who have displayed courage, resilience and strength in providing support to those living with HIV.

One of the three Indian organisations to win the award, People Like Us (PLUS) is a community based organisation of young transgender dancers.

They have a walk-in shelter care, providing services such as counselling, financial support, and HIV/AIDS prevention.

PLUS are “firm believers in community participation, and partner strategically with local, regional and international organisations for advocacy and programme implementation.”

Agniva Lahiri, the Executive Director of PLUS, told PinkNews.co.uk that it “feels great” to have their work recognised as the only one of the 25 laureates who work with transgender people.

“In that way its really special.

“The award is for celebration of excellence in HIV/AIDS response, as well as a sober reflection of gains and losses in the campaign against the epidemic.

“The recognition will break the communication barrier surrounding HIV/AIDS, and break through the silence, denial and stigma associated with the epidemic.”

PLUS’s prize money will go towards community campaigns and leadership initiatives, as well as opening three new shelter homes.

The Red Ribbon Awards are presented every two years.

25 laureates are announced and each awarded $5,000 (£2,550).

At an international AIDS conference in Mexico City in August, five of these laureates will be chosen to receive special recognition, and awarded an additional $15,000.

The Director of UNDP’s HIV/AIDS Practice, Jeffrey Malley, said there were many “brilliant examples” of community action and leadership on HIV prevention, treatment, care and support.

“However, most of them are unheard and unsung,” he said. “The Red Ribbon Award is a way to recognise and honour them.”

The 25 winners are:

ASONVIHSIDA (Nicaragua), Associación Civil Amavida (Venezuela), Association de Lutte contre le Sida (Morocco), Centre for Popular Education and Human Rights (Ghana), Coalition of Women living with HIV/AIDS (Malawi)

Consol Homes (Malawi), Empower Foundation (Thailand), Estonian Network of People living with HIV (Estonia)

FIMIZORE – “Organisation for the rights of all” (Madagascar), Fortaleciendo la Diversidad (Mexico), Grupo de Amigos con VIH (Mexico), Hamyaran Mosbat – the Mashhad Positive Club (Iran)

Mama’s Club (Uganda), National Federation of Women Living with HIV/AIDS (Nepal), Ntankah Village Women Common Initiative Group (Cameroon), People Like Us – PLUS (India), Phoenix Plus (Russia)

Power Positive Support Community Based Organisation (Kenya), Promoteurs Objectifs Zéro Sida (Haiti), SANERELA + (South Africa), Sanghamitra (India), Sankalp Rehabilitation Trust (India), Social Action for Women (Thailand), Voice of Roses (Kenya) and YAKEBA (Indonesia).