If Latin American countries are to meet the commitment of ending AIDS in the near future, the resources of all kinds are urgently needed. This was the prevailing theme among the 150 representatives from 30 countries during the 2nd Latin American Forum on the Continuum of HIV/AIDS Care, in Rio De Janeiro on Aug.18-19, 2015.
The forum was a vibrant space where 90 organizations—including governments, international agencies and civil society—discussed combined prevention and its components. The ambitious goal needs more condoms, education and testing but less stigma and discrimination.
“Stigma and discrimination are the third epidemics around HIV”, said Dr. Patricia Campos, Chief of the Latin America Bureau at the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) during the Opening Session.
“We don’t have more time to waste in non-articulated actions,” she added. “We have the challenge to continue with the promotion of condoms, sexual education and STI’s prevention and treatment.”
Participants from governments and civil society networks of people living with HIV and sex workers agreed that condoms and sex education, along with zero discrimination, not only help prevent HIV but other health problems and unwanted pregnancies, a growing problem in the region.
The newly approved WHO guidelines on testing were also part of the agenda. They recognize that rapid testing by lay providers and self-testing are essential to increasing the number of people who know their status.
AHF regional teams actively participated in the forum. AHF co-sponsored this second meeting, a follow-up to the First Forum (Mexico City, May 2014). A large number of Forum participants signed-on in support of the new AHF-led campaign calling on the World Bank to re-assess how it categorizes countries by income level. Many Latin American countries are classified as Middle Income and are adversely affected by this issue.