Argentina and Brazil promote actions on World AIDS Day
05 December, 2011 - Stigma is still a great challenge to the countries' responses to the HIV epidemic. Vulnerable populations such as injecting drug users and sex workers and their clients still face barriers when accessing services on the basis of prejudice.
The HIV epidemics in Latin America have changed little in recent years. The total number of people living with HIV continues to grow to an estimated 1.4 million in 2009 from 1.1 million in 2001 due largely to the availability of antiretroviral therapy. An estimated 92 000 new HIV infections occurred in the region in 2009.
Here are some actions taken in Argentina and Brazil in the World AIDS Day.
In Argentina, the first Center of free HIV testing for drug users was opened in the province of Buenos Aires.
The center was inaugurated by the Buenos Aires' Network of People Living with HIV / AIDS, to attend people in vulnerable conditions, such as drug users. "After over 10 years working in hospitals in the province of Buenos Aires we found out that people who come at a critical stage of the disease or dying are mostly drug users and there is no public policy designed specifically for this group. So we decided to create this free HIV test center, the only one in the province of Buenos Aires," said Marcela Alsina of the Buenos Aires' Network.
The Testing Center will work for free from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The center will also offer full assistance through the creation of an interdisciplinary team composed of experts in the fields of psychology, medicine and nursing and 25 health professionals from the Buenos Aires' Network, who will provide pre and post HIV test counseling. Services will be offered in coordination with the Hospital Posadas which will analyze blood samples.
Buenos Aires' Network of People Living with HIV is a nongovernmental, nonprofit organization founded in 10 December, 2000, whose general objective is to provide better quality of life for people living with HIV, their families and social environment, encouraging empowerment and effective involvement in decision-making processes. In addition, it performs actions for awareness and prevention of new HIV infections.
In Brazil, the national campaign for this year is mainly focused on fighting the stigma that affects gay men. The focus is on young gay men aged 15 to 24 years from C, D and E, economic classes. The action seeks to discuss issues related to HIV/AIDS in terms of stigma and prejudice. The idea is to stimulate reflection on the false impression that AIDS only affects the other, away from the perception that we are all vulnerable.