Lima (Fides Service) - Most of the people in Peru with HIV/AIDS live in the capital Lima which has a population of 8 million. The first case of AIDS in Peru was confirmed in 1983. In 1990 there were con 4000 cases of AIDS and in 1995 there were 60,000 HIV+ and 8,000with AIDS.
As elsewhere in the world most of the first patients were homosexuals but gradually the numbers increased to include women and children. According to the Health Ministry most cases were sexually transmitted 96%, then mother/child transmission 3% and other means the remaining 1-%
The main concern is to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS, which seems to be uncontrollable. At first 1 woman was infected for every 14 men. Today the ratio is 1 to 2. But what is most concerning is that most of women are young and at the childbearing age and hence there is the risk of mother/child transmission which is in second place because every year about 1,300 HIV+ women give birth.
The causes for the spread of AIDS are promiscuity, drug abuse, sexual violence and abuse, myths, customs, poverty, unemployment... In the 1990s the average age of HIV/AIDS patients was between 35 and 55, today it is 15 to 35. This shows that the new epoch goes hand in hand with social situations in which solitude, dissatisfaction, lack of personal realisation must be considered important factors in prevention.
But we must also ask which measures must be take with regards the situation of women? What prevention for women who bear life and many are adolescents pregnant for the first time? What can we do for children born to HIV+ mothers who are soon orphans? And is it enough to give only the hope of medicine to those who are positive? What life can we offer them if time is less important and their loved ones are also sick?
I we want to promote health in Peru it is not enough to provide medicine and human attention; we must help them to escape from poverty from unemployment which sharpen the sting of desperation and infection.
Although HIV+ people are no longer rejected as they used to be, they are still isolated and their rehabilitation is difficult. Hence the importance of many initiatives started to help HIV+ persons. (AP/ZM) (3/4/2004 Agenzia Fides)