There has been a 26% increase in HIV cases among young men in Costa Rica, from 2014 to 2018. New infections jumped from 15.5 to 19.6 per 100,000 inhabitants. These figures point to an epidemic.
There has been very limited prevention of contagion. Many people are never tested and spread the virus unknowingly. Authorities believe one of the reasons for the increase in cases is that the population has neglected the consistent use of condoms, which are available for free from the CCSS.
Additionally, the test is not being routinely ordered with annual blood work. Even when someone asks for the test it is often not ordered. I’ve lived in the country for 12 years and asked for it 5 times before it was actually ordered. People go for their annual bloodwork and assume this test is included and they are fine because they don’t hear any bad news. I asked to see my results and the test wasn’t run.
It is important to ask for the test and verify it’s been done and see the result. It’s also important to know that the CCSS has an effective treatment for the virus that can lower its concentration to undetectable levels, meaning the person can have good health and not transmit the virus to their partners.
The VIHDA Foundation provides advice and support to people who want to be tested. They will clear up doubts about the process and even accompany people to the CCSS clinics to take the tests. The director of the foundation hopes that the authorities and media will run campaigns to remind the population of risks and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases.