Latin American, Caribbean Health, Education Ministers To Attend Meeting Ahead of AIDS Conference in Mexico
Ahead of the XVII International AIDS Conference, health and education ministers from 16 Latin American and Caribbean countries will attend a meeting in Mexico on Aug. 1 to develop a common strategy to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS in the region, Mexican Undersecretary for Prevention and Health Promotion Mauricio Hernandez said recently, Prensa Latina reports. "Education for prevention is the most important task that we want to carry out as a joint effort by the governments," Hernandez said, adding that 17 health ministers and 12 education ministers have confirmed their participation in the meeting.
According to Hernandez, a consensus exists among the meeting participants to further government policies that promote comprehensive sex education. In addition, there is a need to focus on young people, Hernandez said, adding that more than 500,000 people ages 14 to 24 in the region are HIV-positive. Hernandez also said that although young people do have knowledge about contraceptive methods, a minority of the population practices safer sex in many countries in Latin America and the Caribbean (Prensa Latina, 7/24).
HIV/AIDS Increasingly Affecting Women in Mexico, Experts Say
In related news, health officials and experts have said recently that HIV/AIDS is increasingly affecting women in Mexico, Xinhuanet reports. According to Jorge Saavedra, director of the National Center for the Prevention and Control of HIV/AIDS, women account for 20% of new HIV/AIDS cases recorded in Mexico, and AIDS-related deaths among women in the country also are increasing. Saavedra added that women are more likely to contract the virus from their husbands or stable sex partners, who often are undocumented immigrants to the U.S. Undocumented immigrants to the U.S. have been a primary source of HIV transmission for Mexican women, Manuel Yanez, professor at the Metropolitan Autonomous University, said, adding that such immigrants often have more sex partners. In addition, undocumented immigrants are more likely to have sex with commercial sex workers without using condoms and use injection drugs, placing them at an increased risk of HIV, Yanez said. He added that although many women know that their partners have sexual relations with other people, they have no power to negotiate sex. According to Axela Romero, general director of the Holistic Health for Women, women in the country also do not have the power to negotiate safer-sex practices because of fears of being mistreated or abused. "So we have women whose husbands swear to keep the fidelity but have sex with other women without protection," Romero said (Xinhuanet, 7/29).
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