Puerto Vallarta, Mexico – World AIDS Day is being commemorated on December 1, 2013. The event brings together people from around the world to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS and demonstrate international solidarity in the face of the pandemic. The theme for World AIDS Day 2013 is "Shared responsibility: Strengthening Results for an AIDS-Free Generation."
Here in Puerto Vallarta, the SETAC Community Center is using this opportunity to spread awareness, to encourage progress in HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, and to call attention to the importance of emotional and social support for adults and children living with and affected by HIV and AIDS.
On December 1st, SETAC is organizing the first 'Bike Ride for Life!' to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS in Puerto Vallarta. Everyone is encouraged to hop on their bikes and meet at the Augustin Contreras Flores Sports Stadium Sports Stadium at 8 am to register for the ride. The 'Bike Ride for Life!' begins at 9 am and proceeds up the Malecon to Los Arcos del Malecón, where the Puerto Vallarta World AIDS Day Celebration will be in full swing with live entertainment and free, rapid HIV testing for all those interested.
Living with HIV/AIDS is no longer a death sentence due to innovative research and game-changing medicines that are available today. These cutting-edge treatments can improve the quality of life for people with HIV and reduce the probability of transmission through sex by up to 96%.
But how can we make preventative measures effective in our country when 4 out of 5 people living with HIV do not know that they have been infected?
We need to make universal access to prevention and treatment a reality. People should know that HIV can, in many cases, be prevented, and that early and timely detection is the best prevention. They should also know about HIV rapid screening, and where they can go to get tested.
Once an individual knows their diagnosis, access to the proper medications and health services has to be simple, and retention strategies and treatment facilities staffed by trained personnel have to be in place.
In addition, prevention materials should be available to everyone, including the rapid HIV test, male and female condoms, milk formula for children of mothers living with HIV, and tests and medicines to treat STD's and other opportunistic infections.
"These are all very important tools in our ongoing efforts to effectively reduce cases of HIV in the greater Puerto Vallarta area," says SETAC Executive Director Paco Arjona.
As a key measure for access to treatment, the National Guidelines for the Treatment of HIV has to be according to the new recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO), opening the possibility of initiating Antiretroviral (ARV) treatment at earlier stages of infection (a CD4 count of above 500,) rather than waiting for a further deterioration of the body.
It's important to improve Mexico's national procurement policy and the system of distribution, storage and administration of the medications available for anyone who is living with HIV or AIDS. From experience, we know the consequences of shortages and arbitrary modifications to ARV schemes are carried out not by medical criteria, but based on economic / administrative criteria.
SETAC will keep working on the principles of effective strategies for the prevention, early detection, linkage to health services, comprehensive care - with quality and warmth - retention and adherence programs, early access to treatment, and the care and monitoring of STD's.
According to Arjona, "SETAC is actively participating in this integrated approach and once again we call the decision makers who accepted the responsibility to serve the country to exercise leadership and to place public resources with efficiency, transparency and based on scientific evidence to effectively impact the epidemic of HIV and AIDS."You can be one of these voices by joining us on Sunday, December 1st for the first "Bike Ride for Life" in Puerto Vallarta.
The purpose of the SETAC Community Center, located at Constitucion #427 and the corner of Manuel Dieguez on the South side of Puerto Vallarta, is to provide essential services to the community, including physical and mental health treatment, referrals, and education 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.