October 31, 2005

A free HIV/AIDS treatment centre has been opened recently in Tijuana, Mexico, after a collaboration between Mexican NGO Agencia Familiar Binacional (AFABI) and the US-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF). The project will be the first comprehensive, community-based HIV/AIDS clinic in Mexico and will provide anti-retrovirals (ARVs) to inhabitants of the region as well as migrant workers.

Under Mexico's new Seguro Popular healthcare scheme, which was introduced in July 2005, to the benefit of 3.5mn families, the government has expanded provision of HIV/AIDS treatment, with the aim of eventually providing universal care. At the moment, individuals not covered by social security, or without access to the Mexican National Fund for Persons Living with HIV/AIDS (FONSIDA), can have trouble obtaining testing-services and ARVs.

This is often the case among migrant worker populations. A recent study has shown that the HIV/AIDS prevalence rate in this community stands at 1% -- around 20,000 people -- three times the national average. Most migrant workers have limited access to mainstream healthcare systems in either Mexico or the US and it is these people that will be targeted by the new Tijuana clinic.