Each year, three bordering countries in the Amazon – Colombia, Peru and Brazil – meet in Leticia, Colombia to hold the Festival of the Amazon Co-fraternity, a celebration that promotes an exchange of indigenous and ethno-cultural traditions.
AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) and partner organizations used the 2017 festival in July to launch a first-ever testing event in the country, where an estimated 150,000 people are living with HIV. During the four-day event, 1,266 men and women were tested. Of those, five tested positive and were immediately linked to care.
“We’ve been concerned about the triple border for a while, so this was a great community-based testing initiative to reach populations in the countries,” said AHF Brazil Prevention and Advocacy Manager Beto de Jesus. “Authorities in the border cities are now communicating with each other to ensure progress continues to be made, and we are looking forward to replicating this model in other regions.”
Reaching indigenous populations in the Amazon is critical, since many people reside in hard-to-reach areas and can be hesitant to accept non-traditional, Western medical practices.
“The collaboration among healthcare providers in both Brazil and Peru to bring testing to Colombia was a great first step,” said AHF Latin America and Caribbean Bureau Chief Dr. Patricia Campos. “AHF is excellent at creating and implementing innovative solutions that governments and NGOs can adopt to reach the most at-risk communities.”
AHF already has programs in Peru and Brazil.