More Indigenous Guatemalans Turn to Sex Work, Stoking HIV Fears
December 12, 2008
Health workers are seeing an increasing number of Maya women travel to Guatemala City to work as prostitutes, and many could return to their home communities with HIV/AIDS.
"They act as a bridge for [HIV/AIDS] and related diseases, bringing it back to the general population," she said. "We don't yet have firm numbers, but hospitals are seeing more cases of tuberculosis and STDs, as well as more AIDS cases."
Clinics serving the poor, including García's, are being overwhelmed. "Our largest issue is always money," said Ana Castillo, executive director of the Fundación Marco Antonio, which operates the clinic. "We are funded by the government, and the Ministry of Health receives budget cuts regularly. We couldn't possibly expand our services."
In recent years, a clinic in the in the Western Highlands that serves indigenous Guatemalans has seen demand for HIV/AIDS treatment surge. Several years ago, it saw just seven patients. Now it serves 40-50 every day. Most want nutritional advice, but many are presenting with symptoms of HIV/AIDS.
11.28.2008; Ezra Fieser