Guatemala holds second National HIV Testing Week Campaign

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Guatemala holds second National HIV Testing Week Campaign

03 August 2011

Rene Mauricio Valdes, UN Resident Coordinator in Guatemala, at the inaugural event of the "HIV Testing Campaign" for UN staff members.
Credit: UNAIDS Guatemala

An estimated 100 000 people took part in the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare of Guatemala’s National HIV Testing Week Campaign, now in its second year. In order to fulfill the right to health for all citizens, the Ministry, through the National AIDS Program, has established 295 HIV testing sites at national hospitals and health centers around the country.

Twenty-seven years after the first reported case of HIV in Guatemala, access to testing remains limited. According to data from the National Epidemiology Center two out of three people living with HIV were unaware of their status. Early detection of HIV infection is crucial as it enables timely access to treatment and, with it, a better quality of life for people living with HIV.  

Under the slogan "No matter who you are, get tested for HIV," an estimated 100 000 people took an HIV test the last week of July. Supported by Red Cross Guatemala, civil society organizations, and universities, the initiative promoted inclusiveness and an environment free of stigma and discrimination.

To meet the country's commitment to universal access to prevention, treatment, care and support to HIV, the Government institutionalized the annual National HIV Testing Week to offer all citizens – including key populations at higher risk – access to HIV tests over a one week period.

This is an opportunity to stop HIV in Guatemala and get closer to UNAIDS vision of zero new infections, zero AIDS deaths and zero stigma and discrimination

Enrique Zelaya, UNAIDS Country Coordinator for Guatemala and Mexico

"This is an opportunity to stop HIV in Guatemala and get closer to UNAIDS’ vision of zero new infections, zero AIDS deaths and zero stigma and discrimination,” said Enrique Zelaya, UNAIDS Country Coordinator for Guatemala and Mexico.

Innovative proposal in the UN

The UN system in Guatemala also took part in the weeklong campaign. Under the guidance of the UN system-wide workplace programme on HIV, UN Cares, with both human and material resources from the Red Cross and the Guatemala National AIDS Program, HIV testing was made available at different offices of the UN System in Guatemala.

"It is a privilege, an opportunity and a right to have this national initiative and to take it closer to our workplaces," said the UN Resident Coordinator in Guatemala, Rene Mauricio Valdes.

The HIV epidemic in Guatemala

An estimated 65 701 people are living with HIV in Guatemala. Each year, there are an estimated 7 557 new infections, the equivalent of 21 people newly infected each day. The country’s epidemic is concentrated among key populations at higher risk, such as transgender people, people with tuberculosis, men who have sex with men, female sex workers, youth at risk, and prisoners.