One in four people with the HIV / AIDS virus in Latin America and the Caribbean do not know it, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) announced today in Washington, urging that they be tested to “stop the epidemic.”
“Take the test” is the slogan of the campaign for the World Day of the Fight against AIDS this year, which for thirty years has been held every first of December.
HIV testing is vital to protect couples and prevent new infections, as well as for people diagnosed with the virus to quickly start life-saving treatment, the organization added.
According to PAHO, more than 2.1 million people live with HIV in Latin America and the Caribbean, of which only 1.6 million know they are carriers of the virus.
Thanks to the dissemination of AIDS tests and greater access to antiretroviral treatment in the region, between 2010 and 2017 AIDS-related deaths have fallen by 12% in Latin America and 23% in the Caribbean, said the international institution. .
However, in Latin America the rate of new HIV infections remains unchanged at around 100,000 per year, a reduction of only 1% since 2010.
Progress in the Caribbean has been much faster, with an 18% reduction in new infections, but even so, throughout the region, the groups most at risk of contracting HIV continue to be left out of vital prevention and follow-up services. .
The director of the Department of Communicable Diseases of PAHO, Marcos Espinal, attributed the “important advances” made in the fight against AIDS in the region to the fact that more than three-quarters of people living with HIV have been diagnosed and almost 80% of them are in treatment.
“The World Day of the Fight against AIDS reminds us that, despite these advances, one in four people with HIV in the region still do not know they have it, they have not started the treatment and, therefore, have a higher risk of dying prematurely and infecting others, “Espinal said in a statement.
According to PAHO, the new infections in the region are mostly suffered by men who have sex with men, representing 41% of new cases in Latin America and 23% in the Caribbean.
The other groups with higher incidence are sex workers and their clients, trans women and people who inject drugs.
“Reducing new HIV infections is key to accelerating the response to HIV / AIDS in the Americas,” said Espinal, who recommended removing barriers such as “stigma and discrimination,” which prevent key populations from accessing HIV services. detection and treatment. (EFEUSA) .-