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HIV in Playa del Carmen on the rise

Playa del Carmen, Q.R. – Recent statistics from Vida Positiva show the local rate of HIV is five times that of the national average.

After a year of HIV testing, the civil association of Positive Living (Vida Positiva), concluded that the young people in Playa del Carmen were at a much higher risk than anywhere else in the country. The association says that over the past 12 months they’ve conducted over 7,000 rapid tests. Of those tests, 88 people tested positive for HIV.

Rudolf Geers, president of Vida Positiva, explained that “Those who tested positive were channeled to relevant health institutions for confirmation and medical care. The results we obtained are generally five times higher than that estimated by Censida. The national average of HIV infected people is 0.24 percent but in Playa, it was 1.18 percent.”

Of those that tested positive, 24 were heterosexual men between the ages of 17 and 30. He added that 53 of the HIV positive were homosexual and 11 were women.

Given these recent figures, Geers stresses the importance of the municipal government and other authorities to acknowledge this as a public health concern.

“There needs to be a meeting to discuss how to act on this issue,” he said.

Rapid tests are often referred to as point-of-care tests because rather than sending a blood sample to a laboratory, the test can be conducted and the result read in a doctor’s office or a community setting, without specialized laboratory equipment. The sample taken is usually either finger-prick blood or saliva. Results are generally given within 20 to 30 minutes.

There are dozens of different rapid tests available for use. Most rapid tests detect antibodies only, but a test that also looks for p24 antigen was introduced in 2009. Some laboratory professionals have viewed these tests with skepticism as rapid tests perform poorly in detecting very recent infection.

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