HIV/AIDS in Latin American Countries: The Challenges Ahead

HIV/AIDS in Latin American Countries: The Challenges Ahead

HIV/AIDS in Latin American Countries: The Challenges Ahead

HIV/AIDS in Latin American Countries: The Challenges Ahead

Synopsis

Compared to most countries in Africa and to nearby islands in the Caribbean, most Latin American countries have not faced a full-scale AIDS epidemic-yet. A number of recent trends suggest, however, that if Latin America does not take appropriate prevention measures soon, incidence levels could reach epidemic proportions.Sound and timely policies can limit the current and future impact of HIV/AIDS on Latin American health care systems, economies, and societies. Many countries in Latin America have shown their willingness to address the scope and special nature of the HIV/AIDS problem; since the late 1980s these countries have developed new structures and the groundwork needed for community responses. However, many challenges still lie ahead.'HIV/AIDS in Latin American Countries' presents new and updated information about the extent and trends of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Latin America; it evaluates current national surveillance capacities, and assesses the national responses of the health sector to the epidemic on a country-by-country basis. Based on analyses of secondary information and on new World Bank sponsored research and country-level data, the study looks at 17 countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Republica Bolivariana de Venezuela, and Uruguay.

Excerpt

Compared with most countries in Africa, and with the nearby islands of the Caribbean, many Latin American countries have not faced a fallscale AIDS epidemic. On average, Latin American countries estimate HIV prevalence among 15– to 49–year-olds at 0.5 percent. Around 130,000 adults and children were newly infected with HIV during 2001, and 80,000 died. Although AIDS accounts for only a fraction of all adult deaths in most Latin American nations, those deaths occur in the most productive years of life. There are worrisome signs in several countries in the Region; the disease appears to be evolving—from affecting virtually only the highest risk groups, such as men who have sex with men (MSM) and injecting drug users (IDUs)—to becoming an increasingly generalized problem. Throughout the Region, many behaviors associated with the spread of HIV/AIDS (young age at first intercourse, violence against women, injecting drug use) are commonplace, and with the exception of a small number of countries, the response to the threat of HIV/AIDS has been slow, small-scale, and largely only supported by external agencies and international programs. If the warning signs are heeded, and appropriate prevention measures are taken in the very near future, Latin America has the opportunity to avoid the sad stories seen in other parts of the world.

Sound and timely policies can limit the current and future impact of HIV/AIDS on Latin American health care systems, economies . . .

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