/ 18 August 2004

Latin outbreak

Estimated worldwide HIV infections: 58 678 508 at noon on Wednesday August 18 2004.

While most Latin American countries have not yet experienced large-scale HIV/Aids, recent trends suggest the disease could reach pandemic proportions in the region unless its nations step up prevention-promotion measures.

This is the theme of HIV/Aids in Latin American Countries: The Challenges Ahead, a Spanish-language study published by the Pan American Health Organisation (Paho) and the World Bank. Seventeen Latin American countries were included in the report.

While the study acknowledged significant under-reporting of cases, it states that the best estimates indicate that about 1,4-million people in Latin America have HIV/Aids.

The feminisation of the pandemic is evident by the increasingly equal proportion of men and women with HIV/Aids, and by the growing HIV-infection rates among pregnant women and children. Rising infections among women between the ages of 20 and 29 indicate that adolescents are at high risk, the study said. Research shows that regional levels of knowledge and information are sufficient but, ‘we are not seeing behavioural change toward [less risky] sexual practices,” said Dr Mirta Roses, director of Paho and author of the prologue.

Source: AIDS Weekly and Law