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Nov 28, 2012

Sex education and health revealed in report

Dr. Marvin Manzanero

A number of eye-opening facts were released today following a behavioral study on HIV. The National HIV Programme of the Ministry of Health and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Central America recently completed the survey among Female Sex Workers, Men who have Sex with Men and Persons with HIV. All three target groups are considered vulnerable populations.  The survey was aimed at identifying the practices that may be linked to the prevalence of HIV and other Sexually Transmitted Infections among persons in these groups. Some of the significant findings include that only thirty-three percent  of female sex workers and fifty-seven percent of men who have sex with men are aware of HIV transmission. The majority of persons with HIV are from lower income levels and the stigma and discrimination against those persons are highest in their communities and workplaces. The findings also show that the prevalence of HIV among the men who have sex with men is higher than in female sex workers. In February 2013, the final report will be released, but today the preliminary stats were presented at the Biltmore. Dr. Marvin Manzanero, the Director of the National HIV Program, says this is first study of such magnitude for Belize.

 

Dr. Marvin Manzanero, Director, TB & HIV/AIDS Program, Ministry of Health

“What we are doing this morning is presenting the findings of a survey we started in 2010. It’s a Seroprevalence survey and we basically looked at two populations, who are female sex workers and men who have sex with men and we were looking at the prevalence of other sexually transmitted diseases in persons with HIV. That is what we were trying to determine looking at specific characteristics to those three groups. Preliminary, I think with the persons who are HIV positive, which is what we have presented so far, we are finding that there’s fairly low condom usage. There’s a great amount of knowledge that people know but it seems that that knowledge is not translating into any behavior change. For the female sex workers group, we found a lower prevalence of HIV than what is being reported in other Central American Countries, it’s under one percent but they have a higher prevalence of STI’s and also low condom usage consistently. In the men who have sex with men group, we have prevalence that seems to be higher than in other Central American countries and also low condom usage. In general, that’s a snapshot of what we have done with the preliminary data. We had different methodologies for the three different populations. In none of the three populations we met the target. We were on average met sixty percent of the intended target. I think each population has specific characteristics and that’s why we had to use different methodologies. We didn’t reach the target in all of these three populations but that is also a learning experience for us.”

 

Giovanni Bracket

“Any reason why you didn’t reach those targets?”

 

Dr. Marvin Manzanero

“In some instances, we may have overestimated the number. The men who have sex with men group might be a more difficult group to get simply because of the characteristics of that population.”

 

Delahnie Bain

“Can you elaborate a bit on the methodologies used?”

 

Dr. Marvin Manzanero

“In the female sex workers, we did something that is called census sampling, in persons with HIV we did random sampling through a computer system; the Belize Health Information System and with the men who have sex with men, we used  a statistical method called respondent driven sampling, which is a little bit complicated to explain.”

 

After being distributed to stakeholders today, the data is expected to be used for policy development, planning and changes to current strategies in the way HIV is dealt with in Belize.

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6 Responses for “Sex education and health revealed in report”

  1. Storm says:

    Public health education is necessary, but also a strong program in the churches. Reckless sexual behavior needs to be reduced — it’s not just a matter of AIDS and other diseases, which is bad enough, but also the matter of pregnancies of females who aren’t ready to become mothers — no husbands, no jobs, no education, no stability, no financial resources. I count out-of-wedlock pregnancies as one of our gravest problems, because it brings children into the world with little chance of breaking the cycle of poverty and ignorance that is ruining our nation.

  2. Rod says:

    Half of all belizeans have aids and don’t even know it and this gov. Is covering it up.

  3. Come On says:

    this makes no sense. first the female sex workers don’t use condoms, then they have under 1% HIV prevalence, which is less than the general population. something is wrong with your survey sir. cooking the books as usual? this makes no scientific sense. a few months ago Ministry officials were celebrating zero maternal mortality, and the few weeks later we learn of women dying left right and senter at Orange Walk hospital. these stats are bogus to say the least.

  4. Belizean says:

    Agree with storm!!! What the church is supposed to do, they are not. Because of the degradation of what is supposed to be church, I understand why people have a negative attitude toward it. It should never be that way. Abstinence = HIV/AIDS FREE!!!!!!!!!! If everyone would honor what God has put in place, nobody would have to suffer that disease. Now some people have to suffer innocently for the irresponsible actions of a few.

  5. Elgin Martinez says:

    Good start DR.Manzanero,however will the health department make condoms readily available for those who might not be able to afford it.

  6. Ryan C says:

    If the study has the correct confidence intervals then I believe this is excellent research work. Do agree that the church needs to play a more proactive approach to sexuality education and changing the way people behave.
    Aren’t condoms available for free at all public health facilities?

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