Puerto Vallarta, Mexico - More ninety men and women received free, confidential HIV testing and counseling last Saturday at the first of the 10 "HIV Brigades" scheduled to be held this year.
Hosted by SETAC, and their GLBT Community Center, the "HIV Brigade" set up camp in a complement of white tents erected in front of Puerto Vallarta's famed arches on the Malecon. "We specifically picked the Constitution Day weekend because of the large crowds that come to Puerto Vallarta for the three-day holiday," said Francisco Javier Arjona Barbosa, Executive Director of SETAC.
"We had a very strong turnout. In addition to the more than 90 tests we administered, we also provided a great deal of free information about AIDS and HIV in general. There is a lot of confusion and misinformation about the HIV virus. We passed out brochures as well as more than 1000 condoms to those who wanted them."
Arjona, who is known locally as Paco, went on to explain how important it is to provide early HIV/AIDS testing for everyone concerned.
"The earlier we can test for it, the easier it is to treat - both in terms of the protocols used and the fact that earlier treatment is less expensive. Early detection of the HIV virus can turn what was once a life-threatening death sentence into a chronic disease that can be treated. Obviously, we want to reach a place where the HIV virus is no longer a threat and no longer exists. But in the meantime, we urge everyone who even thinks he or she is at risk to come in and get tested as early as possible."
Early HIV detection is one of SETAC's main priorities for 2013, and this concern is demonstrated by the nine more HIV Brigades that are scheduled for this year. They will be held on:
• March 28th, 29th, and 30th - Lazaro Cardenas Park
• April 27th - El Pitillal, Main Plaza
• May 11th - La Aurora, Cancha de Usos Multiples
• June 8th - El Caloso, Main Plaza
• July 13th - Malecon
• August 10th - Lazaro Cardenas Park
• September 14th - El Pitillal, Main Plaza
• October 19th - La Aurora, Cancha de Usos Multiples
• November 9th - El Caloso, Main Plaza
The purpose of the SETAC Puerto Vallarta Gay, Lesbian Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) Community Center, located at Constitucion #427 on the corner of Manuel Dieguez, is to provide essential services to the GLBT community, including support in recovery from alcoholism and other afflictions, physical and mental health treatment and referrals, education and recreation in an atmosphere of safety, free from discrimination. For more information, contact Paco Arjona at (322) 224-1974 or paco(at)setac.com.mx.
Click HERE to learn more about Centro Comunitario SETAC-GLBT.