MEXICO CITY — Women in Latin America and the Caribbean face elevated risks in preventing and opportunely diagnosing HIV. In the majority of cases where women have been diagnosed, they have decided to get tested because their partner had already been diagnosed with AIDS.
Because of this, treatment is often delayed. A collection of social, educational and gender factors determine the dynamic of HIV transmission among the female population. Currently, 31 percent of the people with HIV or AIDS in Latin America are women, while in the Caribbean the figure is 52 percent.
During the session of the Fourth HIV Congress of the Americas, which took place in Mexico City last April 18 to 30, the female perspective appeared many times. The feminization of AIDS is accelerating. Doctor Alicia Piñeirúa Menéndez, from the Condesa Specialized Clinic, said that it is important to understand the context in which women face HIV and refine the determining factors related to gender; women with HIV are often monogamous, less educated, lower paid and in unstable economic situations.
Women with HIV, said Piñeirúa Menéndez, who are not part of a community or a specific population, have an especially difficult time getting diagnosed.
Doctor Isabel Cassetti, from the Fundación Helios Salud in Buenos Aires, emphasized the increase of adolescent females being diagnosed with HIV, which marks a new stake in the epidemic, as it previously had mostly affected women over 40 or 50 years. Cassetti said that machismo is definitely a factor that has determined the way that HIV affects women.
ESTEBAN BATORY SANDORF