Latin America and the fight against AIDS

On December 1st, World AIDS Day is celebrated, and from LatinAmerican Post we tell you about the situation in Latin America.erica.

Red bow, symbol of the fight against AIDS.

Red bow, symbol of the fight against AIDS. / Photo: Pixabay

LatinAmerican Post | Laura Viviana Guevara Muñoz

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Leer en español: América Latina y la lucha contra el sida

On December 1st, World AIDS Day is celebrated worldwide. This year's motto, according to UNAIDS, is "Communities make a difference" since the organization aims to highlight "the fundamental role that communities have played and continue to play in the response to AIDS at local, national and international levels."

The World Health Organization established this day for the first time in 1988, trying to create an opportunity to reinforce not only the interest on this issue but to make a call, through dissemination campaigns, with messages of solidarity, tolerance, normalcy and always pointing to the non-discrimination that people with this disease live.

It should be remembered that Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome is a pandemic disease caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection, which causes damage to the immune system. Therefore, the defenses are gradually destroyed, generating complications if the affected person gets serious infections or even tumors.

This is how in 2018, and according to UNAIDS, 37.9 million people in the world lived with HIV, and of which 1.7 million were children under 15; added that 8.1 million people did not know that they were carriers of this virus.

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HIV in Latin America

As mentioned, there are more than 37 million people who are infected and according to EFE, so far in 2019, Latin America continues to report an increase in cases of infection, being Chile, Costa Rica, Brazil and Bolivia the countries that have more cases. Even so, death rates from this disease have declined due to access to treat HIV.

In Chile, for example, case numbers have increased by 34 percent, being the country with the most cases in Latin America. As a way of detecting new cases, organizations such as Seremi Salud and Fundación Chile, carry out campaigns where through rapid tests they detect the virus and let people know if they are carriers or not.

According to the Chilean media, Cooperativa, in the region of Aysén, in southern Chile, 18 new cases have been registered, for a total of 201 people infected in 2019. In addition, the Ministry of Health works in the Program of Prevention and Control of HIV/AIDS and STIs, in which it intends to educate about contagion, taking into account that 95 percent of cases occur for having unprotected sex.

Bolivia is the second country with more contagions, as the increase in cases was 22 percent. In October, eleven people were diagnosed with the virus and fifteen died from the virus.

From January to October, "109 people who were diagnosed," according to Correo del Sur. Despite the fact that the “National STI/ HIV/ AIDS and Viral Hepatitis Program” exists in the country, and that it is constantly growing to be able to serve the entire affected population, the efforts are not having an effect on the control necessary to the health of the infected Bolivians.

In Costa Rica, the reported cases increased by 21 percent and according to UNAIDS figures, there are 13 thousand cases detected. Between 2016 and 2017, the cases increased drastically as 1,000 cases were diagnosed, "thus triggering the rate of 20 per 100 thousand inhabitants," as Diario Extra recalls.

However, on November 26, the Costa Rican Congress achieved a series of modifications to the General HIV/ AIDS Law, which entered into force since April 29, 1998. Among the changes, it is found that both Costa Ricans like foreigners will be able to continue their treatment in case they “fall into a condition of poverty, destitution, unemployed or non-contributors,” according to Costa Rica Today. In addition, it will be mandatory for pregnant women to get tested for HIV.

Brazil, like Costa Rica, had an increase of 21 percent of the cases detected, reaching around 53,000 new cases, as revealed by the Ministry of Health. In addition, it is also revealed that 135,000 people could have the virus and not know it.

To counteract it, the Brazilian government focuses on campaigns especially for the young population, because that is where the rate is increasing. According to RTV news, "the focus is on reinforcing the importance of prevention, testing, and treatment."

The country, and which was a role model for the treatment and prevention of the virus, not only presents a high increase but the lack of “support from local governments and international agencies against the disease”, made the figures they shoot again, according to DW.

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Venezuela, another problem

Given the massive migration that has been given by the political crisis in Venezuela, it is estimated that around 8,000 people with the virus have migrated, and that “between 300,000 and 1,200,000 Venezuelans could be infected without knowing about their condition or hiding it,” according to El Nuevo Día.

In addition, the situation does not improve for those who remain in the country, because according to the NGO Stop HIV, between 300,000 and 1,200,000 Venezuelans could have the virus but not know it. Added to the fact that many cannot get medical appointments "because the system does not have the treatment", as El País explains.

Those that have decreased

Countries such as El Salvador, Nicaragua, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Panama, and Peru, on the contrary, have reduced the number of cases. In the Caribbean, on the other hand, the figure fell to 16 percent, with Cuba being the country with the "lowest HIV / AIDS prevalence in Latin America and one of the lowest in the Western Hemisphere," as announced by Periódico26.

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