HIV/AIDS in Ecuador
Ecuador, a South American country, is a middle-income country. Of its 18 million population, an estimated 9.8% lived on $3.20 per day in 2019. Nevertheless, it has a reputable health care system, scoring 13th in the world according to Bloomberg’s 2014 Most Efficient Heath Care Rankings. Ecuador’s proficient health care system has been effective in combatting the global epidemic known as HIV/AIDS. The first reported case of HIV in Ecuador was in 1983. Below is an assessment of the status of HIV/AIDS in Ecuador.

Current Rates of HIV/AIDS

Globally, there are an estimated 38.4 million people living with HIV, as of 2021. Of these, 1.7 million are children and the remaining 36.7 million are adults. In Ecuador, an estimated 35,000 people are living with HIV. This means that HIV prevalence per 1,000 adults is roughly 0.19% in Ecuador. A 2017 Open Forum Infectious Diseases study revealed that more than 60% of HIV patients are on antiretroviral therapy and most cases are not yet in the AIDS stage.

Government Measures

On December 8, 2016, the Mayor of Quito, Ecuador’s capital and home to 25% of its HIV cases, signed the Paris Declaration Fast Track, a piece of legislation that aims to end the AIDS epidemic once and for all. By signing the Declaration, Mayor Mauricio Rodas has committed to reaching certain targets of HIV awareness and rates of treatment. The high standards set by the Declaration require that 90% of people with HIV are aware of their HIV status; that 90% of people who know their status are receiving antiretroviral treatment; and finally, that 90% of people on treatment are suppressing the viral load. The signing of this Paris Declaration signified a clear determination of the nation’s legislators to eradicate HIV/AIDS in Ecuador.

Looking Ahead

In 2018, an NGO called Diálogo Diverso began its journey in Quito. The organization is the first in Ecuador to work for human rights, including the rights of LGBTI migrants and refugees. Its “Hablemos Positivo” (Let’s Talk Positively) initiative receives support from the United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). Now active in three other locations across Ecuador, including the HIV hotspot, Guayaquil, Diálogo Diverso is spreading the message of tolerance and inclusivity further than ever.

As a result, Ecuador is becoming a safe space for those with HIV from all over South America. This is incredibly encouraging as an important contributor to eradicating the virus is to increase awareness of the real causes of transmission and the many options available for further prevention of transmissions. Furthermore, one activist working with Diálogo Diverso stated that “HIV is one of the reasons why LGBTI people leave the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, given the difficulties in accessing antiretrovirals on a permanent basis, the invisibility of their rights and, on other occasions, hate crimes.” With the continuation of the good work of Diálogo Diverso and continued funding of Ecuador’s health care system, the potential for eradicating HIV/AIDS in Ecuador looks promising.

– Max Edmund
Photo: Unsplash