Around 18,000 Bolivians are living with HIV/AIDS. Young people between the ages of 10 and 24 account for more than a third of the Bolivian population, and 67 per cent of reported cases of HIV/AIDS are people aged 35 and under. According to UNICEF, the incidence of HIV/AIDS has grown at an average annual rate of 26 per cent since the year 2000.
Only a quarter of those living with HIV/AIDS receives the necessary antiretroviral treatment needed to manage the illness. This is because, in poor areas, residents struggle to access healthcare and some never even receive a diagnosis.
Reported HIV/AIDS cases are concentrated in the departments with the highest populations including La Paz, Santa Cruz and Cochabamba, which together, account for 89 per cent of the country’s HIV/AIDS cases.
The government in Bolivia is highly influenced by the Church. As a result gay, bisexual, transgender individuals and men who have sex with men have been discriminated against and have less access to prevention services.
Instituto Para El Desarollo Humano (IDH) was established in 1997 to address HIV/AIDS and related issues in Bolivia, through prevention and attention services for people living with, or at risk of contracting, HIV/AIDS in Cochabamba.
IDH’s goal is to help improve the quality of life of the population, particularly in rural areas, through the development of programmes based on research, educational promotion and participatory action.
IDH currently works on two programmes. The first, SidAccion, is a holistic programme that offers direct medical support to people living with HIV/AIDS. As part of this programme, IDH holds an annual weeklong fair on HIV awareness that is attended by over 25,000 people.
The second programme, MediAccion, focuses on advocacy, working with schools for the prevention of HIV/AIDS, sexual violence and drug use among children and young people.
In 2015, IDH – with its strong links with governmental and non-governmental entities and networks, both within Bolivia and internationally – reached 21,915 direct beneficiaries.
Photo: Carola Andrade