Oaxaca: Indigenous people register 80% of HIV cases
HIV/AIDS cases have increased all over the world - Photo: Gao Jing/ XINHUA

Oaxaca: Indigenous people register 80% of HIV cases

04/09/2018
12:03
Lizbeth Flores/Corresponsal
Oaxaca
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8 new cases are registered every week in Oaxaca only

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It's 9 pm. Every day, at this time, Fernando is reminded that he has other 24 hours to live. This is the time when he has to take his antiretroviral, the medicine that keeps him alive in the facing of having AIDS.

Fernando acquired HIV 15 years ago, but in the face of fear and denial, it took him some time to get tested, which delayed the start of his medical treatment, and as a consequence, he developed AIDS.

Since then, his life changed and although he renews his strength every day, takes his pills, and works as an accountant; every night he faces reality again. He does when he looks at the pill he has to take every day, for the rest of his life.

“Without a doubt, having courage is complicated, all is good during the day, but when the night comes, when it's time to take my antiretroviral treatment, seeing the pill bottle takes me back to my reality, I depend on this pill, it's like having death present, that reminder is too much sometimes”, he says.

Fernando, a 43-year-old, is one of 6,000 people infected with HIV-AIDS in Oaxaca, registered since 1986 to 2018's first trimester.

According to the Epidemiological National Surveillance System, from January to August 2018, 272 HIV cases and 87 AIDS cases have been registered, compared to 308 and 91 cases, in the same period in 2017, which shows the contagion numbers are stable.

Gabriela Vásquez Rosas, the State Council of AIDS' Prevention and Control's (Coesida) Director, estimates that they won't reach the goal set by the ONUSIDA, that is, to end the epidemic by 2030, as in Oaxaca up to eight new cases are registered every week. She explains that infections have increased not just in Mexico, but all over the world.

According to her numbers, there were 9,176 HIV contagions in the country, an increase from 2016, when 7,723 cases were registered. In regards to AIDS, the number registered was 3,508, compared to 3,046 the previous year.

Indigenous people, the majority of cases

From over 6,000 cases registered in Oaxaca, 80% are indigenous people, says Gabriela Vásquez. “From the 570 municipalities in the state, over 400 municipalities are inhabited by people with HIV or AIDS; it's alarming”, she says.

She says the work to prevent and detect the virus is complicated in rural communities, mainly because of traditions, taboos, the language difference. Another difficulty is the budget shortage, which contributes to not reducing the number of cases.

Rejection and discrimination

In other cases, like that of Fernando, the situation is complicated by the fear of being discriminated against and denial they experience at the beginning. With psychological help, self-help groups, and attending congresses has allowed him to accept his diagnosis and enjoy life, although has lived through discrimination for 15 years, he confesses.

He says that rejection not only takes place in the social sphere but even in the health sector when he attends public and private hospitals and clinics. He says this is why he is afraid to inform doctors of his serological status and be discriminated every time he requires a medical appointment.

Although he says he has no physical pain, he always alert in the case of any change, following the treatment, diet, and personal hygiene rigorously. He wants to live and be healthy so his family doesn't suffer, he doesn't want to see them suffer, he says.

His experience spans over a decade, which drove him to found an organization to support people with HIV. He agrees that the number of contagions won't decrease, this is why he affirms people have to lose fear, take the test in time, and believe that the treatment is the key to keep on living.

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