Renewed prevention efforts needed for key populations in Latin America and the Caribbean

Epidemiology of HIV in Latin America and the Caribbean.

De Boni R, Veloso VG, Grinsztejn B. Curr Opin HIV AIDS. 2014 Jan 3. [Epub ahead of print]

Purpose of review: The aim of the present review is to update HIV/AIDS Epidemiology in Latin America and the Caribbean highlighting the concentrated aspect of epidemic in the region.

Recent findings: Among general population, HIV prevalence in Latin America is at stable levels (0.2-0.7%). The Caribbean still has one of the highest HIV prevalence rates in the world (<0.1-3%), but incidences have declined around 49%. This is not the current situation for high-risk key populations; most incident cases occur among MSM. Available data on transgender women suggest that they are the most-at-risk group. Female sex workers still have a 12-fold chance of being HIV positive compared with other women. IDU prevalence was revised to 0.45%, but non-IDU has been suggested as a mediator between sexual risk and HIV.

Summary: The increase in treatment coverage (mean is at 63%) resulted in modifications of HIV/AIDS epidemiology. New strategies to seek, test and link key populations to care are urgently needed and targeted interventions to prevent HIV expansion among them must be adopted. These strategies should consider the particular situation regarding social inequalities, discrimination and violence that pervade the HIV epidemic among key populations.

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Editor’s notes: This review highlights recently published data on key populations in Latin America and the Caribbean, including men who have sex with men (MSM), transgender women, female sex workers and people who inject drugs. HIV remains a concentrated epidemic in Latin America and the Caribbean with MSM and transgender women being the most vulnerable populations. Although antiretroviral therapy (ART) coverage has increased to over 80% in several countries, a renewed focus on prevention, especially among key populations, is needed. It is estimated that prevention efforts currently only receive 15% of HIV public spending in this region. Culturally appropriate efforts are needed to identify and prevent HIV infection among key populations, and to better understand transmission dynamics of neglected groups such as transgender women. 

Latin America
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