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HIV/AIDS rates in Tijuana, Mexico increasing at alarming rate

s ?including researchers at the municipal, state and federal level ?used recently published reports, community-based studies and data from Mexico's National Center for the Prevention and Control of HIV, extrapolated with population estimates based on the 2000 Mexican census.

The dramatic rise in HIV infection may be linked to a number of factors including Tijuana's proximity to the United States, which creates economic opportunities that attract migrants from elsewhere Mexico. Such migration is linked to lower socio-economic status, social and political alienation, lower awareness of HIV/AIDS and, for some, the need to turn to substance use and sex work to fill the perceived void ?all contributing factors that can lead to increased vulnerability to HIV infection.

Although homosexual/bisexual men continue to be the groups most affected by HIV/AIDS in the border region, needle sharing among injection drug users leads to increased HIV infection, and Tijuana is on a major drug-trafficking route. The model used in the study suggests that injection drug use and sex trade may be driving the HIV epidemic in Tijuana. The population's mobility is also a consideration; 64% of Tijuana residents report crossing the border into the United States at least once a month.

"HIV prevention should be considered a public health priority," said Brouwer. She notes that Mexico is taking many of the right steps in that direction. "For instance, screening of expectant mothers has become more common, with more than 95% of women delivering babies at Tijuana General agreeing to rapid screening and intervention. If a mother tests positive for HIV infection, antiretroviral medicine can be administered to reduce the risk of HIV infection from being passed on to her infant."

Health officials in Mexico and the U.S. agree that expansion of free and voluntary HIV screening and counseling are needed.

"Other studies by this team reveal that only half of fem
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Source:University of California - San Diego


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