Friday, May 30, 2008

20,000 dead in 22 years

According to this article from a couple weeks ago, over 20,000 Hondurans have died of AIDS in the last 22 years. This is in a country with a population of about 7 million. Actually, the number sounds a bit low to me. Friends of mine in the support group describe the period of time from the early 90's to early 00's as a time when "everyday you'd hear that someone you knew had died."

One of the key paragraphs (for me) roughly translates as follows:

The representative ... emphasized that one of the problems that continues to limit prevention and treatment programs is the high percentage of people with HIV who don't have access to antiretroviral therapy "due to stigmatization."

This is certainly true in Trujillo. I'm just finishing up a report based on a survey of 99 PLWHA in Trujillo. Though we didn't measure stigma and discrimination directly, there was ample indirect evidence, most strikingly in the number of HIV+ people who did not seek out treatment when it is available for free and within walking distance. Many more people did get treatment, but not in Trujillo. Instead they traveled to La Ceiba, Tela, San Pedro Sula, even Tegucigalpa (an expensive, 12 hour bus ride) to get treatment. This suggests that HIV infection is still highly stigmatized, and people forgo treatment rather than risk being "outed" as HIV+.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Trujillo Tourism Video

Hey everyone. Sorry for being out of touch for so long. Lots of traveling + bacterial infection = no time for blog updates. Several updates are in the works, but in the meantime I leave you with a promotional video from the Trujillo Tourism Office:

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

One Year Done

May 4th was the one year anniversary of the start of my Peace Corps service in Trujillo. It's hard to believe that so much time has gone by already. And I have no idea how I'm going to fit all the work I want to do in to just one more year!

Service has been the emotional roller-coaster I was told to expect. It has also been the life-changing experience that I hoped for. Overall, one year into it, I can say that I wouldn't rather be doing anything else. I love my work even when it angers, frustrates, and depresses me. But usually it doesn't.

Shortly before I swore in last year I went to La Gran Carnaval del Jamo in Olanchito. I went back again this year for round two of eating iguana, parades of high-stepping horses, marching bands and floats, and a night full of music.

This time, I ate iguana stewed in cocounut made by a woman who has been the host mom for many Olanchito PCVs. It was delicious. Didn't eat any iguana eggs, though. I also had sopa de mondongo for the first time. Sopa de mondongo is a very common soup in Honduras, made with pig cow intestines. It was pretty tasty, but the texture of the intestines didn't have me clamoring for seconds.

On the work front, things are only getting busier and busier. I'm in the middle of entering and analyzing data from surveys of 100 people with HIV in Trujillo. I'll write a post about the results when I finish. After the survey is finished, the support group will plan the next few months of activities based on what the survey tells us are the most pressing needs. On top of that, we will be starting a testimonio project, gathering personal stories of people with HIV and compiling them in to a book that we will then distribute as part of a stigma and self-stigma reduction campaign.

On the national front, the Support Groups team is doing a significant revision of the activities manual for support groups (this is a manual full of activities, discussions and exercises that a facilitator can do with their groups). We are also creating a curriculum for training new support group leaders and soon will begin planning the national workshop which will take place this July.

Anyone who knows me knows that I love being busy with challenging work. I'm really enjoying all this.