Since the early 1980’s HIV/AIDS has left and still leaves many ugly trails and tragedies. One of the worst – if not the worst – is the one of innocent adolescents. 16% of Peruvians that have to live with this infectuous disease are minors 15 years and younger. In many the virus was trasmitted through their parents and through sexual contact with an infected person, even at that age.However, for many experts fighting this epidemic disease, the main problem is not those who are already infected but those who are in danger and risk of contracting it.
Although 42% of Peruvian HIV/AIDS patients – according to UNAIDS, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (in Spanish: Onusida) – are between 25 and 49 years old, official statistics reveal that the majority of them contracted the virus in their adolescence, early childhood or even before they were born. Adolescents are considered more vulnerable because of the lack of information and the beginning of sexual relations at an early age.
For Eduardo Blume from the NGO “Vía Libre”, the responsibility lies also with their parents, their teachers, authorities and society in general: “There are no studies which demonstrate that a correct and satisfactory sexual education occurs in Peruvian schools”.
According to Blume, the schools should take action because it is difficult to leave that task solely to the parents, since there are very few that talk with their children about sexual issues. The problem is that teachers are not enabled to educate and advise adolescents on this subject.
In addition to the teenagers who contracted HIV through sexual relations are the innocent victims that became infected through their mothers. Because of the advances of medicine they were able to look forward to a somewhat normal life, although they are not exempt from discrimination and other problems. The “El Hogar San Camilo” attends to 400-450 children who were born with HIV.
In the last decade, the home cared for more than a thousand children that were infected by their mothers. Some of them are soon entering adulthood. The first baby at San Camilo that was raised with human milk substitute is now eleven years old.
Another Peruvian organisation dedicated to attend HIV patients is “Punto J”. For more information please visit their website at http://www.puntoj.com.pe/.
Article by Wolfy Becker