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Mexico’s HIV epidemic needs to stop
Antiretroviral treatments are the most common, and they work by interrupting the virus’ life cycle and protecting the immune system - Photo: Yadin Xolalpa/EL UNIVERSAL

Mexico’s HIV epidemic needs to stop

09/06/2018
14:09
Pedro Villa y Caña
Mexico City
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It is estimated that 250,000 people in Mexico will become infected by 2020 which is why it is necessary to implement social health and development policies to end the epidemic

In 1981, there was an HIV/AIDS pandemic which instilled fear of those infected as well as those who were likely to catch it. Since then, 78 million people have been infected with HIV, and 35 million have died from AIDS.

The reason it spreads so quickly is that it attacks a specific type of white blood cell called T-helper cells, which are very important for the proper functioning of the immune system. Since the virus can’t grow or reproduce on its own, it makes new copies of itself within the cells, damaging the immune system and weakening our natural defenses.

However, there have been considerable improvements in the treatment of HIV. Antiretroviral treatments are the most common, and they work by interrupting the virus’ life cycle and protecting the immune system. Antiretroviral drugs vary depending on the life cycle’s stage.

Although HIV/AIDS is no longer a pandemic, it still poses a problem for public health in many parts of the world. Mainly due to the fact that people infected are usually unaware of the illness and are likely to infect other people without knowing.

On December 2016, there were 220,000 people infected with HIV/AIDS in Mexico, and it is estimated that there will be 250,000 people infected by 2020, which is why it is necessary to foresee actions and implement social health and development policies to end this epidemic.

At a press conference, upon presenting the Third Latina Forum Latin-American HIV Symposium 2018, Pedro Cahn, scientific director of the Huésped Foundation of Argentina and former president of the International AIDS Society (IAS), stated that the UNAIDS’ goal is to boost their 90-90-90 strategy, which posits that 90% of individuals living with HIV will know their HIV status by 2020, 90% of people diagnosed with HIV will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy, and 90% of people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have access to viral suppression.

“UNAIDS’ goal is ambitious but attainable. The success of the 90-90-90 strategy will only be possible if antiretroviral therapy is available for anyone who might need it.”

New prevention strategies and scientific developments contribute to the simplification and improvement of existing treatments, among other things,” he concluded.

Carlos Leonardo Magis Rodríguez, head of the National Centre for Prevention and Control of HIV/AIDS (CENSIDA), explained that one out of three people infected with HIV in Mexico don’t know their status, which is why the country has joined the UN’s initiative and will seek to “diagnose 90% of HIV carriers in Mexico, which amounts to around 225,000 people.”

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