Chile has highest rate of AIDS in South America, reveals new study

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Chile has the highest rate of AIDS of all South American countries, reveals a study carried out by the Hospital Clinic of the University of Chile.

Ahora Noticias spoke to immunologist Alejandro Afani, who explained that in 2010 there were 2,986 new cases of AIDS. In 2017 there was a huge jump to 5,216, an increase of nearly 100%. He added that in 2018 the number of new cases of the syndrome could reach 8,000.

In the recent study carried out on 3,102 people, 1.29% tested positive for AIDS, which is almost three times higher than official statistics released from the Ministry of Health, according to La Tercera.

The president of AIDS Chile Corporation, Carlos Beltrán, confirmed to  ADN Radio that “AIDS has always been out of control, and highlighted the World Health Organisation’s mission to control the epidemic by 2030. The World AIDS conference in Holland revealed that Chile was one of seven countries with the most increase in cases of syndrome over the last seven years.

“The transmission of the disease is still increasing,” Beltrán added. “This is a problem that we have to face as a country.”

Also the president of the AIDS Committee in the Pan-American Association, Beltrán added that the syndrome has been subject to various misconceptions that need to be clarified.

“It’s not a problem of some specific populations, as it has been said that here it is the immigrants, men who have sex with men, foreigners, people in prison, marginalised groups, no,” he explained. “From the sample taken from the J. J. Aguirre Hospital, 99.2% of the tested people were Chileans born in Chile.”

If the majority of those carrying AIDS are Chileans, what is it about the country that has allowed such an increase?

In conversation with ADN Radio, Afani underlined the fact that people are less afraid of contracting AIDS than 20 years ago, as it is no longer a mortal illness, merely a chronic one. Promiscuity and a lack of systematic use of condoms is considered a large factor in the spread of the syndrome. Afani also implied that the country’s health system has not treated the issue with the seriousness it deserves.

“In the world over the past few years the tendency is a reduction in cases and mortality,” he told the radio station. “South America has stayed at a bit of a standstill and Chile is one of the few countries that been increasing, first, because the public health has not taken measures, and also because there is no sexual education at the correct level in schools. This means that young people do not care for themselves.”

One of the most worrying things both Beltrán and Afani highlighted to La Tercera is that 64% of those who took part in the study had never taken an AIDS test before, when it should be a routine test taken at least annually.

“These behaviours, along with a variety of sexual encounters, mean that all the risk factors are pieces of a puzzle and explain the high levels of HIV that we have,” Beltrán said.

The news source reported that in other countries on the South American country such as Colombia, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Uruguay, cases of HIV had reduced around 20% between 2010 and 2016 in stark contrast to neighbouring Chile.