HIV Cases in Latin America Increased 21% in 10 Years

During the last 10 years, HIV cases in Latin America increased 21%, and this situation has been made more severe due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, deaths from AIDS related illnesses went down 8% in the same period of time, however that rate went down 37% in the Caribbean. 

This was informed by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), through a press release, issued on World AIDS Day, celebrated on December 1st. The regional organism also detailed that the number of new HIV cases has been increasing each year, going from 100 thousand in 2010 to 120 thousand in 2019. Meanwhile, the number of AIDS related deaths decreased “slightly”, from 41 thousand in 2010 to 37 thousand in 2019. 

PAHO Director, Carissa F Etienne, considered that this data clearly shows that “HIV infection still represents a serious public health issue in Latin America”, and that inequalities, stigma and discrimination must be faced “in order to ensure that no one is left behind”. 

Besides, since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic an important decrease in HIV screening tests has been registered. As an example, there are eight countries: Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Peru, Dominican Republic and Santa Lucia, which carried out around 4 thousand fewer HIV tests in the first 6 months of 2020, compared to the same period 2019. 

Upon facing this scenario, the regional director of the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Cesar Núñez, warned that “any deceleration in the provision of services (for HIV) will leave many particularly vulnerable groups with a higher risk of AIDS related infection or death”. 

The achievements 

But not everything has gone backwards. PAHO also reported some important advances regarding HIV in the region.

For example, the percentage of pregnant women with HIV who receive antiretroviral treatment, which reduces the possibility of transmitting the virus to their children, increased from 52% in 2010, to 74% in 2019. Meanwhile, the percentage of children born from women with HIV and who get the infection went down from 20% in 2010 to 15% in 2019. 

Additionally, the percentage of people with HIV in antiretroviral treatment increased from 43% in 2010 to 60% in 2019 and currently, more than half (53%) of people with HIV in the Latin America and Caribbean regions have the infection under control thanks to antiretroviral treatment.