Mexico: From Despair of Sisters, a House of Hope Is Built
September 13, 2006
Eunime Por Tijuana (EPT), housed in a small white bungalow near the city's downtown bullring, offers support groups, counseling, emergency financial assistance, and clothing to those coping with HIV/AIDS. Staffed by volunteers and run on a shoestring budget, the organization aims to create a homey setting where families can find and offer comfort, said founder Rosalva Vasquez.
Baja California's Health Department (BCHD) has registered almost 5,000 AIDS cases since 1983, nearly 70 percent in Tijuana, whose rate of cases ranks second to Mexico City's.
As the virus has spread in Mexico, efforts to contain it have stepped up. BCHD, which is pioneering an HIV prevention program in Mexico, began testing all pregnant women coming through health centers two years ago; it also offers follow-up treatment. As a result, perinatal transmission has dropped dramatically.
"We're helping with testing, with psychological help, with medication," said Dr. Remedios Lozada of BCHD's HIV/AIDS program in Tijuana. "But these [organizations such as EPT] are spaces where people can feel comfortable, where they can meet others with a common problem and can learn how to live with this."
Inspired by Eunice and Noemi Quezada, two of Tijuana's first known pediatric HIV/AIDS cases, Vasquez and Juana Ortiz, Noemi's older sister, founded EPT. Eunice died by age 4 but Noemi survived and is now 19. Today, EPT's primary clients are 32 children undergoing HIV/AIDS treatment at Tijuana's General Hospital and their families.
Two U.S. groups, Alliance Health Care Foundation and Children Affected by AIDS, have given EPT grants of $7,000 and $10,000, respectively. Volunteers provide support and donations of food, clothing, and toys.
San Diego Union-Tribune
09.04.2006; Sandra Dibble
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.