High HIV Prevalence in Ecuadorian Province Could Lead To National Epidemic, U.N. Officials Say
The HIV prevalence in Guayas, Ecuador's most populated province, is nearing the prevalence recorded in some African and Caribbean countries 10 years ago, and the disease "could mushroom into a national epidemic" in 10 to 15 years if left unchecked, U.N. officials said on Tuesday, the AP/San Diego Union-Tribune reports. Mauricio Valdez, the U.N.'s coordinator in Ecuador, said that approximately 80% of the country's HIV-positive people live on the coast in the Guayas province, which includes Guayaquil, the country's largest city, with 3.3 million people. Paul Martin, a UNICEF representative, said that UNAIDS has $14 million budgeted for Ecuador, but the agency is hindered by "the slowness on the Ecuadorian side to define the role of programs to fight [HIV/AIDS]." In addition, "the situation is becoming more alarming because of the predominance of infections in women and children," Miguel Machuca, a representative of the Pan American Health Organization, said, adding, "This means the epidemic is advancing out of control." According to Ecuador's Ministry of Public Health, the government has recorded between 4,800 and 5,000 HIV/AIDS cases in the country, but the number of unreported cases could be as high as 50,000, the AP/Union-Tribune reports (Solano, AP/San Diego Union-Tribune, 10/19).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.