Guatemala has a concentrated HIV epidemic, a relatively low level of literacy, and a challenging economic environment. This intersection of economic, social, and health disadvantages inspired AHF and its partnering organizations and groups to advocate for change within the region.
This change, headed by Saul Paau of AHF, manifested in the partnership of AHF Guatemala, The Red Cross of Guatemala, Asociación de Salud Integral (Comprehensive Health Association), The Ministry of Health, LGBT advocacy groups, volunteers, the media, and many other outlets of HIV prevention, care, and advocacy. As a result of this partnership, 99% of the 12,317 patients in AHF’s care adhere to their treatment.
While this is an achievement to be celebrated, there are an estimated 18,000 cases of HIV in Guatemala, meaning that many who need treatment have yet to seek or obtain it. To provide the necessary information and treatment to Guatemalan patients, there are 16 clinics in the country, and AHF Guatemala operates in 10 of these. Many of the staff members in these clinics are bilingual or multilingual, speaking Spanish and other indigenous languages; this helps foster comfort and rapport among those seeking care and those providing it.
UNAIDS estimates that the HIV prevalence rate in Guatemala is 0.5%, however among clients accessing HIV testing outreach programs run by AHF Guatemala, the prevalence is 1.38%. AHF testing has identified 809 new HIV cases. There is hope that, through continued efforts like these, more Guatemalans will be provided with information, testing, treatment, and care.