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MSF in Peru, 2006
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Lurigancho is one of the most populated prisons in Latin America. Located in Lima, the prison houses more than 8500 inmates in a space designed for 1500 and up to 4000 visitors are received daily. In Lurigancho, the risk of contracting HIV is five to seven times higher than outside the prison.
Starting in 2001, MSF, together with the National Penitentiary Authority, developed a multidisciplinary project addressing sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV/ AIDS within the prison. The goals were to improve the quality of medical care and treatment of STIs, provide care for people with HIV/AIDS and to train and involve health professionals from disciplines such as psychology and education, who could then provide support to this vulnerable population.
From 2000 to 2005, over 1800 persons were treated for sexually transmitted infections. Voluntary HIV tests were taken by 5673 inmates and HIV prevalence decreased from 8.2 per cent to 4.7 per cent in parallel with increased counselling.
In February 2006, after five years of developing the program, MSF published Lessons Learned: a multidisciplinary work experience in STI and HIV/AIDS in Lurigancho prison in Lima, Peru and began handing over the project to local authorities. MSF will continue to support health workers inside Lurigancho throughout 2006.
A new model of HIV/AIDS care
In the Lima slum of Villa El Salvador, MSF runs a comprehensive HIV/AIDS project at the Centro Materno Infantil San José health clinic. Working closely with the Ministry of Health, MSF has developed a program of simplified testing, streamlined drug regimens and decentralised care. The project includes free and voluntary rapid testing close to patients’ homes and the option of home-based care for those who cannot come to the clinic. Social and psychological support are provided and MSF is creating a range of educational tools to help patients and their families understand what is needed for successful HIV/AIDS care — not an easy task given the high level of illiteracy in Villa El Salvador.
By mid-2006, MSF had built a new clinic and 250 patients were being followed, including 181 patients receiving antiretroviral treatment. Providing community-based medical care and publicly addressing the issue of HIV/AIDS has been a breakthrough in an area where HIV is little understood and remains a stigma.
MSF has worked in Peru since 1985.