When Siempre Unidos started 15 years ago, we held marches in urban centers to bring attention to AIDS in Honduras. In addition to suffering from a lack of treatment, our patients feared hostile discrimination. They walked with paper bags over their heads.
Today, we celebrate World AIDS Day and recognize the victories and remaining challenges. These are described on our new website (www.siempreunidos.org).
People with HIV now receive free antiretroviral medications. When they follow their treatment plans and have adequate nutrition and medical care, they can thrive. Overall, HIV prevalence has fallen from the highest rate in Central America 15 years ago to 0.45%.
Today, our marches feature people proudly wearing bright T-shirts carrying rainbow flags without any fear or disguise.
But, stigma, poverty, and a lack of legal protection for workers with HIV mean some groups remain vulnerable to discrimination and high infection rates. These include “Carla,” who lost her job after her factory took her blood sample without her consent and fired her upon learning she had HIV. And there is “Ana” who scrupulously follows the doctor’s orders but suffers from severe malnutrition.
We thank you for your support and hope you will hold people like Carla and Ana in mind if you are making year-end donations.