Approximately 28% of the population lives on less than US$2 a day and three million people have been displaced by violence. In Barranquilla, the fourth biggest city in Colombia, 40.6% of the population lives in extreme poverty according to the Center of Regional Studies of the Bank of the Republic in 2011. The city is noted one of the five poorest cities in the country according to an article in Espectador.com in April 2013.
Many Barranquilla residents have been displaced from elsewhere. In 33.6% of these families, the woman is the head of the household, whilst approximately 65% of those of working age within families are working on an informal freelance basis.
The HIV/AID epidemic
HIV/AIDS in Colombia is an important and pressing issue that receives very little attention. Although national statistics continuously show the profound impact HIV/AIDS is having on Colombia’s health and development, most social and health programmes do not address any of the HIV/AIDS related issues as it is still seen as an “uncomfortable” subject.
According to the latest epidemiological bulletin of the Colombian Ministry of Health and Social Protection, from 1985 to 2012, a total of 95,187 cases of HIV/AIDS and related deaths were reported, showing a gradual but continuous growth year after year in the number of cases nationwide. In 2012, a total of 8,196 new cases were entered into the SIVIGILA (monitoring system), of these, 98.5% were as a result of sexual transmission.
The HIV/AIDS epidemic in Colombia has a gender distribution of 74.6% for men and 25.3% for women; but the sex ratio has shifted from a 10:1 male/female ratio in the nineties to 2.5:1 in 2012. Over the years, the prevalence of HIV/AIDS has been increasing in the female and youth population – two groups with low levels of HIV testing and prevention. But lack of information is still very common – 52.7% of the reported HIV/AIDS cases are concentrated in age groups between 20 and 39 years, however this same group has a very low perception of their vulnerability to STIs.
When analysing the incidence rate (x 100,000) of reported cases of HIV/AIDS nationwide by regional departments during 2011 to 2012, Atlántico in Barranquilla where FXB operates had the highest proportion of cases, 50.6% in 2012, up from 33.9% in 2011, followed by Bolivar (Cartagena) with 37.6% in 2012.
As part of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), by 2015 the HIV prevalence rate is to be below 1% within the adult population, and Mother-to-Child transmission (MTCT) below 2%. Analysing the percentage of MTCT in 2010, Atlántico has a prevalence of 5% and Barranquilla 5.7%, significantly higher levels than those acceptable by the MDGs. In terms of prevalence in the general population, UNAIDS calculated the Colombian prevalence rate at 0.52% for adults and children in 2012. However, the vulnerable populations have significantly higher prevalence rates, 13.6% within men who have sex with men (MSM) in Barranquilla, 3.5% among intravenous drug users in Medellin, 4.5% among sex workers and 17.4% among street people in Barranquilla.
Our areas of focus
FXB Colombia began in Barranquilla in 1995, as a pioneering organization working with families and children living in poverty and affected by HIV. More than 400 children and their families have benefited from FXB’s holistic approach, which included not only the right medication but also the training needed to follow the treatment, along with psychosocial and nutritional counseling and awareness about children’s rights. FXB Colombia has also provided HIV/AIDS awareness training to approximately 165,000 people from all walks of life – from at-risk street youth to community leaders and members of the medical profession.
Until 2011, FXB operated a primary care centre which housed and treated children and their families living with HIV/AIDS. During this time, beneficiaries received comprehensive care including: antiretroviral drugs, prophylactic and laboratory tests, periodic nutritional assessments, individualised nutritional treatment and support and food supply, psychosocial care and support, education and recreational activities, permanent homes for orphaned and abandoned children, advice and guidance on the legal aspects of HIV/AIDS.
In 2011, FXB transitioned from the primary care centre model to two primary activities: the FXBVillage program and a permanent HIV and health training and education component. In December 2013, 148 adults and 283 children had been brought out of extreme poverty following the successful FXBVillage programme, and in January 2014 FXB Colombia selected the next group of beneficiaries for its second FXBVillage, this time in the La Luz area in Barranquilla.
As part of its HIV and health training and education component, FXB provides a series of workshops in prevention and education designed for and delivered all along the Caribbean Coast. These workshops cover issues such as proper care of children with HIV/AIDS (bio-security standards, hygiene and administration of antiretroviral medication), counseling and training in the comprehensive management of HIV/AIDS to health professionals, sexual and reproductive health with emphasis on HIV/AIDS tailored to schools, universities, businesses and the general community, and the reduction of mother-child transmission of HIV. To date, FXB has trained more than 30,000 people across the Caribbean Coast of Colombia.
Our future plans
- Voluntary beneficiary group activities with effective group Income Generating Activity (IGA), by 2015
- By 2015, awareness amongst the FXBVillage families of their HIV status
- Reinforcing the capacities of those 100 families that participated in the FXBVillage programme to ensure they overcome poverty and become fully self-sufficient by 2016
- Diminishing the vulnerability of young people to the consumption of drugs and to contracting STIs
- By 2016, reducing the stigma and discrimination of people living with HIV/AIDS in the neighborhood La Lu