The Minister of Health of Costa Rica, Dr Daisy Corrales aims to strengthen the AIDS response among key populations at higher risk in her country, which is where the epidemic remains concentrated. During a meeting with UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé on 6 November at the UNAIDS Headquarters in Geneva, Dr Corrales highlighted the focus of her Ministry in developing HIV communications and educational strategies for organizations working with male sex workers.
“We need to develop our strategies to reach male sex workers with HIV information and education that is relevant to their needs and in agreement with their particular work schedules,” said Dr Corrales.
Costa Rica’s HIV prevalence among adults 15 to 49 years of age is 0.3%. The country’s HIV epidemic is concentrated among key populations at higher risk of infection such as the migrant indigenous population, men who have sex with men (MSM), sex workers and their clients. A study conducted in 2010 found HIV prevalence among MSM of 10.9% and 11% among female sex workers.
“It is not always easy to talk about men who have sex with men, sex workers or drug users but we have an obligation to ensure they have access to HIV services that are free from stigma and discrimination,” said Mr Sidibé.
Mr Sidibé also commended the Government of Costa Rica for its efforts in scaling up HIV treatment for people with HIV - an estimated 65% coverage - as well as their success in stopping new HIV infections among children. “Costa Rica’s transmission rate of HIV from mother-to-child is consistently under 2%, a very impressive feat and a bold example for Latin America that an HIV free generation is within our reach.”
Mr Sidibé assured the Minister of Health that UNAIDS will continue providing support to Costa Rica to design its strategy for an effective and sustainable response to AIDS.