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International News

Finetuning the Fight Against AIDS in Cuba

June 20, 2012

The AIDS Prevention Group (GPsida), a network of volunteer health advocates, is seeking to change attitudes towards AIDS and being HIV-positive to reduce infection rates in Cuba. GPsida's ninth National Scientific Event was held in Havana June 6-8.

"People are having sex without protection, because they don't care if they get infected," said Jorge Brito of GPsida. "Fear of HIV/AIDS has been lost."

In Cuba, the government covers 97 percent of treatment free of cost in the country's 16 provinces. More specific studies are needed to find out what proportion of new infections come from contact with people known to be HIV-positive and whether or not they are "intentional" or "non-intentional," according to experts Angela Gala and Yasel M. Santiesteban, of the state-run Pedro Kouri Institute for Tropical Medicine.

Gala and Santiesteban reported on a study of attitudes of HIV-positive Cubans called "Survey of People with HIV/AIDS, 2009: A Tool for Action." Of those asked about how they acquired the virus, 0.5 percent said they "wanted to be infected"; 15.8 percent had believed they were not at risk; and 13.2 percent said "fate had played them a bad turn."

The study, published in 2011, found the leading risk factor was "not using a condom during sexual relations." For that reason, educating people about safe sex continues to be one of GPsida's main objectives.

Cuba has an infection rate of 0.18 percent in the 15-49 age group, considered "exceptionally low" by the UN. Carlos Aragonés, GPsida's founder and national coordinator, said that "very personalized work needs to be done" to reduce the number of new cases annually.

Back to other news for June 2012

Adapted from:
Inter Press Service
06.18.2012; Ivet González

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
See Also
More on HIV in Cuba

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