September 18, 2016

Puerto Rico’s HIV AIDS Problem Grows As Economy Tanks

This article originally appeared in MD Magazine.

Puerto Rico’s economic and political problems are taking a toll on efforts to fight HIV/AIDS, a panel said today at the 20th Annual United States Conference on AIDS in Hollywood, FL.

In a two-hour presentation today, a panel that included public health workers, advocates, elected representatives, and officials from the Puerto Rico Department of Health outlined a disturbing set of trends.

Young people are leaving Puerto Rica and make up most of the more than 89,000 people who left last year. The island’s population has dropped to 3.45 million in 2014 from 3.8 million in 2000.

Lack of funding for health services is contributing to HIV/AIDS cases, with San Juan, Puerto Rico the site of 44% of the US cases.

As of August, 2016 there are 20,409 people living with HIV in Puerto Rico, and an estimated one person in six has the virus but does not know it.

About 20% of the new cases diagnosed are full-blown AIDS, a sign that testing is not reaching HIV positive people early enough.

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