What’s Available in Belize
The Belize Ministry of Health’s National AIDS Program (NAP) sets guidelines for HIV prevention and treatment services, and supports the implementation of HIV prevention, care and treatment services via the National AIDS Commission (NAC), composed of NGOs, civil society organizations and government entities overseeing HIV programs. HIV treatment in Belize is available but not all antiretroviral medications are available in the country due to high costs. It is important to note that many of those who are deported to Belize immediately enter into the national prison system. The Belize Central Prison, managed by the Kolbe Foundation, does provide HIV care and treatment services.
HIV Treatment in Belize
As of 2015, Belize had 14 public and private facilities providing ARV treatment. According to the Belize National HIV Treatment Guidelines, ART is initiated when CD4 < 350 or when a patient has been diagnosed with advanced HIV (clinical stage 3 or 4). However, ART initiation often follows a discussion between the physician and patient about other factors that may affect ART adherence, and as a result ART may be initiated if CDR > 500 if the patient and doctor agree that this is the best course of action.
HIV Diagnosis, Referral, and Follow Up
After a patient is diagnosed with HIV, they are referred to the nearest or most convenient care and treatment site, where CD4 counts are obtained and TB tests and chest x-rays are taken. All patients are registered in the Belize Health Information System, which tracks their progress through the HIV continuum of care, and the dispensation of ARV treatment.
The Belize Criminal Code criminalizes “deliberate” or “reckless” HIV exposure or transmission with a maximum prison sentence of ten years. Section 53 of The Belize Criminal Code calls for a 10-year prison term for “carnal intercourse against the order of nature.”
Cost of Services
HIV testing is free. HIV treatment is also free.
What Patients Will Need
To facilitate transition of your patients into HIV care and treatment in Belize, encourage your patients to bring the following:
- A recent CD4 count
- A recent viral load test result
- A copy of the patient’s chart including diagnoses of opportunistic infections, and complete antiretroviral treatment history
- If possible, a 3 month supply of their current HIV medications
Connecting to Care in Belize
The Belize Ministry of Health National AIDS Program can provide you with the most up-to-date information on access to HIV care and treatment services in Belize:
- Belize Ministry of Health Epidemiology Unit: Address: Ministry of Health, East Block, Independence Plaza, Belmopan, Belize. Phone: +501-822-2325/+501-822-2363/+501-822-0809.
- Belize Ministry of Health National HIV/AIDS Program: Director: Dr. Marvin Manzanero. Email: [email protected].
Resource type: Fact Sheets