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HIV testing lags behind target in Belize, where prevalence rate is highest in Central America

FeaturesHIV testing lags behind target in Belize, where prevalence rate is highest in Central America

BELIZE CITY—Belize remains in the unenviable position of having the highest HIV prevalence rate in Central America. Although UNAIDS quotes Belize’s figure at 1.5% of the adult population age 15 to 49, Belize’s Ministry of Health reports the figure at 1.4%.

Still, Belize is the only country in Central America to have an HIV prevalence rate above 1%. Next door to us, Guatemala has a rate of 0.6%, less than half Belize’s rate. After Belize, the second highest HIV prevalence rate is reported by Panama, with an adult HIV prevalence rate of 0.7%, and that’s still less than half of Belize’s rate.

Officials report a 40% decline off the peak rate of 2.4%

In the Caribbean, the Bahamas, Haiti, Jamaica and Trinidad all reported higher prevalence rates than Belize for 2013, spanning 3.2% to 1.8%. Like Belize, Guyana reported an HIV prevalence rate of 1.4%. Cuba is the Caribbean country reporting the lowest adult HIV prevalence rate of 0.2%, the same as Costa Rica and Nicaragua.

Although the Belize Ministry of Health informed us today that it could not provide us with partial 2014 data, we were told that up to June 30, 2014, 14,729 HIV tests had been conducted, which is slightly below the Ministry’s target of 15,000 per mid-year.

The Ministry of Health also reports a major decline in the adult HIV prevalence rate, from a high of 2.4% over the decade.

In 2013, 241 new HIV cases were reported, with most of them being males and most of them being in the Belize and Stann Creek Districts. Toledo had the lowest number of HIV cases.

For more details, please see interactive map HERE.


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