Spanish version

HEALTH

HIV rates going up

The infection rate among gay men has doubled since 2003.    

Discrimination is one of the factors cited by health officials.

Spanish version

Men who have sex with other men (MSM) are one of the sub-groups of the population most affected by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

In Panama, the epidemiological pattern of HIV is on the rise, since, as a country, it recorded the highest prevalence of HIV in MSM and "transgender" people (including transvestites and transsexuals). 

A study published earlier this month said the prevalence of HIV in adults in Latin America is estimated at 0.4 percent. However, the numbers soar considerably among the target population of this study.

For example, Panama led the list of countries with higher prevalence of HIV in the transgender population, with a 37.6 percent infection rate and within MSMs with a 19.8 percent infection rate.

Meanwhile, statistics from the Ministry of Health showed that, in 2003, the prevalence of HIV in MSM stood at 10.6 percent and for 2008 some studies placed it at 17 percent. Since September 1984, when the first case of AIDS was registered in Panama, to date, 13,709 cases have been documented, of which 67.7 percent are in men, according to official reports. 

César Nuñez, regional UNAIDS director for Latin America, said some of the causes are "violations of human rights, stigma, discrimination and gender inequalities." He said these factors constitute barriers to access to services for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of HIV in this population. 

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