Mexico: AIDS Takes Center Stage on World Awareness Day
December 5, 2002
Safe sex and AIDS prevention were the main items on the agenda Sunday in World AIDS Day commemorations in Mexico City -- where disease is now the third-leading cause of death. Some 25,000 people attended a rock concert in the city's main square, organized by the government's AIDS program and the Institute for Youth.
Meanwhile, local government and community organizations concluded two months of work highlighting the problem of AIDS in the city and educating residents on how to prevent it.
"On the average, we are opening 100 [new] files a month," said Carmen Soler, a coordinator with the government's HIV/AIDS program. "Almost 80 join our [antiretroviral] medication program, which shows they come to us very late, when the effects of the illness are already advanced." Mexico City is home to 28 percent of all the HIV/AIDS cases in the country, according to the National Center for the Prevention and Control of HIV/AIDS. People ages 25 to 35 are most likely to be infected, and sexual contact is the main form of transmission, said Soler. These patients typically became infected five years ago, a figure that is important in designing prevention strategies, Soler said.
Following worldwide trends, women are increasingly infected. According to the Mexico City HIV/AIDS program, one in six AIDS patients are women, compared to one in 20 during the 1980s. Despite free provisions of antiretroviral medication as part of the government's HIV/AIDS program, patients must frequently foot the bill for treating opportunistic diseases. According to Graciela Gutierrez, a representative of Vanguard for People Affected by HIV, AIDS-related infections are a dangerous and costly problem for patients, together with adverse reactions to prescribed medications.
Omar, 25, who was recently diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, said, "The antiretrovirals will be provided free by the HIV/AIDS program, but the cancer they detected in my face and the effects it's having on one of my ears, I'll have to pay for myself."
News Mexico (Mexico City)
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.