Over the past eight years, the number of HIV cases among Mexican youths aged between 20 and 34 has almost tripled, according to recent reports from the National Council for the Prevention and Control of AIDS (CENSIDA)
Last week, CENSIDA announced a 284-percent increase of cases among 15- to 24-year-olds compared to 2010. Specifically, Mexico registered 6,274 sexually transmitted cases of HIV within this age group in 2018.
“Young people have lost fear and respect for the epidemic,” said Javier Báez-Villaseñor from CENSIDA.
Some attribute drug and alcohol abuse to the surge of cases. Others say a general lack of knowledge about HIV is the leading cause. The new figures are now prompting officials to promote better sexual education in Mexico, especially when it comes to using condoms and other contraceptives.
“We know that protection strategies are not infallible. The only 100-percent certainty is abstinence,” said Báez-Villaseñor. “However, protecting yourself is the best form of prevention, but young people are still not taking it seriously.”
In Jalisco, HIV cases have doubled over the past four years, according to the Jalisco Health Secretariat (SJS). To decrease the number of transmissions, the SJS has reportedly adopted a care model involving post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP).
Also known as “next day” treatment, it allows people to take antiretroviral medicine to eliminate the virus. However, patients must take PEP within a 72-hour time frame from the time of suspected contact with the virus. Normally, this is only for emergency situations.
Medication such as Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), also inhibits HIV-positive individuals from spreading the virus to sexual partners.
Public assistance programs also exist in Mexico for those with HIV. One of the most common forms of treatment is through the Seguro Popular health-care program. This is a cost-effective alternative in comparison to private clinics, where monthly expenses often exceed 20,000 pesos a month.
While sexually-transmitted cases of HIV have risen in Mexico, the number of blood-transmissions has been reduced.
Based on CENSIDA estimates, around 35 percent of HIV-positive Mexicans are not aware that they carry the virus.