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MSF in Honduras, 2002
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Push to widen AIDS treatment
Honduras is home to about 60% of all people with HIV/AIDS in Central America. Despite this, as of midsummer 2002, antiretroviral drugs (ARVs), which can prolong life, were virtually unavailable. The government, however, was taking some promising steps that would make the first ARVs available in public health facilities by the end of the summer. With a handful of people under ARV treatment, MSF is advocating at the national level to make treatment a reality for more Hondurans, and in its handson medical work continues to improve the quality of life and chances of survival of people living with AIDS. Other MSF work focuses on fighting Chagas disease, an endemic parasitic disease, and improving mother-and-child health care in rural Honduras, as well as responding to natural disasters and disease outbreaks.
In August 2001, MSF opened an AIDS clinic in Tela, a city on the Atlantic coast, to serve the area's 130,000 people as well as five nearby indigenous Garifuna communities. MSF offers voluntary counseling and testing; sixty HIV tests are carried out monthly, with over 20% of tests coming back positive. Those who test positive can get treatment for opportunistic infections as well as psychosocial support. About 120 home visits are also carried out each month in collaboration with local organizations. MSF began offering ARVs at the clinic in spring 2002, and around ten patients were under treatment by July 2002. A separate HIV/AIDS project focusing on prevention and care in the capital Tegucigalpa and in the city of La Ceiba, ended in January 2002.
For the last several years, MSF has been fighting Chagas disease in poor, isolated areas in central Honduras. While work in Montaña de la Flor in Francisco Morazan department ended in December 2001 after treatment of the last infected patients identified by MSF, teams continue to diagnose and treat the disease in the Yoro area, although vector control activities ended there in late 2001 (read more about Chagas disease here).
In Yoro and Olanchito, MSF continues its mother and child health care program. MSF also aided victims of Hurricane Michelle in October 2001.
MSF first intervened in Honduras in 1974.