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HIV Prevalence in Tijuana Rising Rapidly, Researcher Says

June 2, 2006

HIV prevalence in Tijuana, Mexico, might be as high as one in every 125 residents between ages 15 and 49, KPBS reports. Steffanie Strathdee, head of the University of California-San Diego's Division of International Health, said Tijuana's HIV prevalence is approaching about 1% of the population, which would be triple the national HIV prevalence. Strathdee said new research indicates that HIV prevalence in Tijuana among injection drug users has tripled since the 1990s, and the prevalence among female commercial sex workers has increased nearly tenfold. "We've got a situation where Tijuana is situated on a major drug-trafficking route, [and] prostitution is quasi-legal. We've got a very highly transient population that's very poor, that's marginalized and many of whom are very desperate," Strathdee said. UCSD has donated a customized van that serves as a mobile HIV prevention clinic, KPBS reports. The clinic is open twice weekly in Zona Norte -- a neighborhood with high levels of drug use and sex work -- and provides HIV testing and prevention materials. In addition, public hospitals and clinics in Tijuana now test all pregnant women for the virus. Romedios Lozada, coordinator of sexually transmitted infection programs for the city of Tijuana, said the government is trying to improve the situation with limited resources. Lozada added, "[T]his information must begin at home. ... [W]e at the health department are doing our part. But all of the responsibility shouldn't fall on health officials or the government" (Goldberg, KPBS, 5/31).

The complete segment is available online in QuickTime. A transcript of the segment is available online.

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