Cultural Factors Contribute to High HIV Prevalence in Belize, KPBS Reports
February 22, 2006
Several cultural factors are contributing to HIV prevalence in Belize, which is the highest in Central America, KPBS' "KPBS News" reports. According to KPBS, an estimated 5,300 residents -- or 2.5% of the adult population -- in Belize are HIV-positive, which is nearly twice the HIV-prevalence rate in Guatemala and eight times the HIV-prevalence rate in Mexico. Paul Edwards, director of HIV/AIDS programs for Belize's Ministry of Health, said that factors contributing to the country's high HIV-prevalence rate include a culture in which men often have more than one sexual partner and there is a high rate of sexual activity among teenagers before they complete high school, often without any method of contraception or disease prevention. In addition, many Belizean men cross the border into Guatemala to visit commercial sex workers. The low income of the country's residents, one-third of whom have incomes lower than $2,000 annually, also contributes to the spread of HIV, according to health officials. The segment includes comments from Cherene Valerio of the Belize Red Cross; an HIV-positive Belizean woman who was a commercial sex worker in Belize City; and other residents of Belize (Goldberg, "KPBS News," KPBS, 2/21).
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This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.