Published On: Mon, Aug 13th, 2012

UADY Developing HIV Prevention Strategies for Maya Communities

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“In Mexico there are 220,000 people living with HIV-AIDS and only 40% of them know their diagnosis,” said Tamil Kendall, a professor at the University of British Columbia, Canada.

“It is for this reason that in Mexico it is a priority to offer prevention and early diagnosis programs”, said the Canadian professor during the Seminar on Migration and HIV in Vulnerable Populations, organized by the Autonomous University of Yucatan (UADY).

Tamil Kendall serves as advisor to a team of UADY scholars responsible to research and develop prevention strategies for Maya migrants. She explains that the good news for Mexico is that the antiretroviral therapy is effective and affordable since 2004. “This treatment reduces the amount of virus in the body and therefore the possibility of transmission.”

Unfortunately, Mexico has not seen a decrease in the number of deaths due to late diagnosis, precisely; the people start the treatment when they have already developed the symptoms.

The on-time diagnosis, she insisted, allows people with HIV to have a quality life for many years. “The current estimates indicate that with optimal medical supervision, a person diagnosed with HIV at age of 30, can live up to 70 years of age.”

Questioned about the research undertaken by academics from the UADY and linking HIV with the phenomenon of migration she explained that the study is in its infancy stages in the country, because there is little information on the behavior of HIV-AIDS in indigenous communities.

The Ph. D Rocío Quintal López leader of the research team from the UADY, added that there is some work done among communities in the south part of the Yucatan, whose population recorded high percentage of migration to places like Cancun and the Riviera Maya where unprotected sex is the main cause of HIV.

Quintal Lopez said that the research began in April of this year, and will last for two years. “At the end of this month we will apply the results of the workshop with Dr. Kendall in the communities where we perform the studies”, adding that later on the team will work on designing prevention strategies for the Maya communities.

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