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+.

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