PAHO and AHF will work together against sexual infections in the region

Mara Ruiz
Mara Ruiz

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) signed a collaboration agreement with the objective of eliminating a series of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV, mpox and syphilis, in addition to other diseases such as tuberculosis and viral hepatitis.

On May 1, this agreement was signed by the director of PAHO, Jarbas Barbosa, and the president of AHF, Michael Weinstein. Barbosa, who is a medical expert in public health and began his tenure at PAHO in 2023, declared that “this agreement will strengthen the collaboration of our organizations” throughout the American continent.

Joint actions

The collaboration agreement seeks to promote and strengthen advocacy actions, that is, active defense so that PAHO recommendations are implemented in order to improve prevention programs, the quality of care, and the results of infection treatment. , reported the regional division of the World Health Organization (WHO), through a press release.

It seeks to achieve this objective through the expansion and direct involvement of communities of sexual diversity (LGBT+) in the implementation of innovations in health, such as self-administered detection tests and pre-exposure prophylaxis to HIV (known as PrEP , for its acronym in English), which consists of antiretroviral treatment that prevents a person from contracting HIV.

PAHO’s role is to provide technical cooperation to the countries of the Americas to contribute to the elimination of communicable diseases such as HIV, tuberculosis, hepatitis caused by viruses, and STIs.

This follows the line of the initiative created by PAHO to end 30 diseases and related health problems by 2030, which includes HIV and the other infections contemplated in the agreement with AHF.

AHF is a global nonprofit organization that provides medicine and advocacy to more than 1.7 million people in more than 45 countries around the world, including 11 in the Latin American and Caribbean region. It was founded in 1987 and is today the largest provider of medical care in response to HIV and AIDS internationally.

The challenges of STIs, hepatitis and tuberculosis

It is estimated that around 2.5 million people are living with HIV in Latin America and the Caribbean. In 2021 alone, nearly 120,000 people contracted the virus and another 35,000 died from AIDS-related causes, the most serious stage of the infection.

On the other hand, some 850 people contract tuberculosis every day in the region, while around 90 die from this cause. Tuberculosis, in fact, is an infection that makes one suspect that a person could be infected with HIV, because the weakness of the immune system caused by the virus makes them more prone to developing the disease.

The WHO estimates that around 5.4 million people are living with hepatitis B and 4.8 million with chronic hepatitis C throughout the region. The most recent data indicates that each year there are about 10,000 new chronic hepatitis B infections and 23,000 deaths in the Americas. Regarding hepatitis C, there are some 67,000 new infections and 84,000 deaths each year in the Americas.

As for the situation of mpox (previously known as Monkeypox), as of March 31, there were more than 59,200 cases in the American continent, that is, 68% of the world total, and 104 people had died from it  cause (78% of the total in the world). The country most affected by this epidemic outbreak is the United States, with just over half of the cases and 46.8% of the deaths.

Remember that at AHF Latin America and the Caribbean we have a commitment to bring sexual health services to all people. If you want to take a free HIV test or need free condoms, come to our centers, we are in 11 countries in the region.