The number of people with HIV/AIDS in Colombia is rising, despite a worldwide fall in infection rates by 15% over the last five years.
A report released by the World Health Organization and the United Nations to coincide with World Aids Day found that between 2005 and 2010 the number of people infected with HIV/AIDS dropped by 15%, and the number of deaths dropped 22% — success it attributes to major advances in science and prevention and treatment programs.
In Colombia, cases have been steadily rising since the first infection was diagnosed in 1983, an upward trend that remains in place, according to the UNAIDS coordinator for Colombia, Luis Angel Moreno.
Moreno told Colombia Reports, “The rate of the epidemic is still high, rates continue to rise. Today is a day for reflection on how to tackle these new infections.”
In July 2011 there were a total of 83,467 registered cases of infection in Colombia, mostly concentrated in high-risk populations, particularly gay men and female sex workers. In the first nine months of this year, 114,000 new cases were registered in Bogota, 84% male and 16% female.
More than three quarters of those infected nationwide were between 15 and 44 years old, though in recent years the number of people aged 45 and over with the virus has risen, now standing at 1,627. The 242 Colombian adolescents with the virus represent 3% of all those infected, while the number of people infected who are aged 15 or under is 138, which is 2% of the total.
Though infection rates across Latin America have stabilized, the HIV/AIDS epidemic continues to advance, bucking the worldwide trend. The number of infected people rose from 1.3 million in 2001 to 1.5 million in 2010.
The report’s authors blame Latin America’s lack of national treatment and prevention programs for the gay male population. One in ten gay men are infected with the virus in nine of 14 countries monitored — and in Bolivia, the rate is one in 5.