Argentina AIDS Agencies Blossom, but Face Fiscal Hurdles
January 10, 2003
Started by Alejandro Freyre in 1996, the Fundacion Buenos Aires SIDA, or the Buenos Aires AIDS Foundation, today has a staff of eight or nine full-time employees and more than 30 volunteers. It operates out of Freyre's apartment in a poor, red-light section of Buenos Aires, known for being frequented by "transvesti" prostitutes, who have become an important part of the foundation's outreach work.Adapted from:
The foundation hosts regular outreaches, with the emphasis on peer counseling, to discos frequented by youths and to schools. It also distributes condoms, which can sell for nearly a dollar each. Argentina's median annual income is $2,500; half of its 37 million people live below the poverty level of $2 per day. Much of FBAS's funding is from a German government grant, but that is due to run out in June 2003. Freyre hopes to be able to get enough funding to keep FBAS's doors open.
A sister foundation, the Nexo Group, is also struggling to stay afloat. Nexo President Dr. Sergio Maulen said this year it had to move to a smaller office and temporarily cease publication of its gay magazine NX. The proceeds from NX's sale supported much of Nexo's health services. Maulen hopes to relaunch NX soon; it continues to publish online at www.nexo.org.
Maulen has administered HIV tests from his office since March 2000, a huge breakthrough from the bureaucratic, user-unfriendly public hospitals that also administer the test. Of the mostly gay men who test at Nexo, about 13 percent test positive for HIV, Maulen said. Nexo also runs a hotline staffed by health professionals and volunteers. Maulen explained that although Argentina guarantees AIDS medication and treatment through its public hospitals, it is far behind the United States and other countries in education and prevention.
UNAIDS and the World Health Organization estimate 130,000 people were infected with HIV in Argentina in 2001. Of those who test positive for HIV, about 40 percent report being infected through heterosexual contact, 28 percent through intravenous drug use, and 23 through gay or bisexual contact.
Bay Area Reporter (San Francisco)
01.02.03; Ed Walsh
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.