Findings of UNGASS Indicators: A summary
The adult prevalence rate is 2.3% and a total of 4,800 people were living with HIV in 2009 in Belize. There were for every 100 males, 130 females living with HIV. A 52% completeness rate was observed in Belize during this reporting period. Data on NASA show that USD 2 million was spent on AIDS with 32% from domestic sources. In terms of policy and laws, collaboration with Civil Society Organisations is limited and punitive laws exist against same sex relationships and sex work and there are travel restrictions for PLHIV. Blood safety is ensured, the ART coverage rate is 40%, the PMTCT coverage varies between 22%-61% and 37% of the general population have been tested for HIV in 2009. Only 38% of schools offered life-skills HIV education in 2009 and no information exists regarding orphans and other vulnerable children in terms of support and access to school. Half of young people have comprehensive knowledge about HIV and 8% of young people have had sex before the age of 15 while 9.4% of the general population have had more than one sexual partner in the past 12 months and 63.1% of them have used a condom during their last sexual intercourse. HIV prevalence among young females was 1.01% in 2009 and 76% of PLHIV were still on ART 12 months after initiation of therapy. Belize is among the four Caribbean countries which have reduced HIV incidence by 25% in 2009.
Key Issues Requiring Focus
- Remove discriminatory laws against same sex relationships, sex work and travel restrictions for PLHIV, which is crucial to the respect for human rights and to the enabling environment in support of universal access.
- Empower men who have sex with men, sex workers, transgender and PLHIV by way of a primary focus by national authorities.
- Target priority groups such as female sex workers, MSM, migrant populations and the Garifuna population35.
- Generate, analyse and use strategic information to plan for interventions among these vulnerable groups. This is essential for further successes in Belize.
35 Justin Buszin, Benjamin Nieto-Andrade, Jorge Rivas, Kim Longfield. Multiple Partnerships and HIV among the Garifuna Minority Population in Belize. Population Services International. 2009
National AIDS Programme
What is the AIDS situation in your country?
The HIV situation showed a plateau in the total number of cases up until 2009 and as of last year, a gradual decrease in the HIV incidence is being documented along with an increasing number of patients being put on treatment. Increasing evidence is suggesting that there may be concentrated pockets of certain populations that may have a higher prevalence than the overall reported prevalence in pregnant women.
Tell us what is the biggest achievement of your AIDS programme?
In particular, the increasing integration of HIV services into the overall health system; high coverage of prevention of mother-to-child transmission programmes, expansion of testing to rural health facilities and the gradual increase of the Belize Health Information System for patient monitoring.
What are the successes in responding to AIDS in your country?
Strong commitment of the Ministry of Health to the National Response; gradual incorporation of other ministries into the national response and increasing interest in integrating HIV as a chronic disease and thus incorporation into the health system.
Which key population groups will you keep the focus on in the future?
The focus of the programme will be on men who have sex with men, female sex workers, incarcerated populations and the mobile-migrant population.