Latin America/Caribbean: New Book Raises Awareness About Girls With HIV

The impact of AIDS on the lives of HIV-positive girls in Latin America and the Caribbean is the focus a new book published by the regional chapter of the International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS (ICWLHA), with support from UNICEF.

"Ynisiquierallore" ("And I Didn't Even Cry") tells the personal stories of infected young women in the region. "We decided to publish this book so that these girls would no longer be invisible and so that through their incredible experiences they can show us how they handle the diagnosis, which they do much better than adults, and can teach us a lesson about living," said Rosa Dunaway, a representative of the Honduran chapter of ICWLHA.

Considerable debate among the ICWLHA's Latina chapter preceded the book's publication, but in the end the group decided to go forward with the project, carefully balancing the desire to tell the stories with the need to ensure the girls' privacy. "The agreement was to fully respect [the girls'] rights and needs, to go at their own pace, without forcing them, and also listen to their demands, to what they need," said Patricia Perez, the group's regional secretary.

The book was presented at the recent Fourth Latin American and Caribbean Forum on HIV/AIDS and STDs, which attracted some 3,000 people to Buenos Aires, Argentina. At that meeting, conferees discussed ways to boost prevention and improve access to antiretrovirals. Pan American Health Organization chief Dr. Mirta Roses said AIDS kills 240 people in the region prematurely each day, and 450 more people become infected with HIV. The fifth forum is scheduled for 2009 in Peru.