Information for Providers Assisting HIV Patients Returning to El Salvador

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What's Available in El Salvador

HIV treatment is available in El Salvador, but not all antiretroviral medications are available, owing to high cost. HIV prevention services are available for gay men, women, youth, immigrant populations, and sex workers. Other available services include AIDS hospices and orphanages for children living with or affected by HIV, and support groups for people living with HIV. Most services are provided in San Salvador, the capital.

HIV Treatment in El Salvador

El Salvador offers HIV treatment through its general hospitals around the country. Most are located in the main cities of each of the 14 states (departamentos). A total of 20 hospitals and clinics offer HIV treatment, but there are very few HIV specialists in the country.

HIV Legislation

A law was enacted in 2001 to protect the rights of people living with HIV in El Salvador.

HIV Diagnosis, Referral, and Follow-Up

Once a patient is diagnosed with HIV in a private clinic, public hospital, or public health clinic (unidad de salud), the patient is referred to the nearest public hospital offering HIV treatment. Patients must have a CD4 count of less than 200 cells/μL, a viral load of >50,000 copies/mL, and a history of sexually transmitted infection or opportunistic infection in order to qualify for initiation of therapy. The relevant tests are done at the hospitals.

Cost of Services

HIV testing is free at public health clinics. HIV treatment also is free at the general hospitals. CD4 count and viral load tests are free but sometimes these tests are not readily available, thus delaying treatment and care. Patients may be required to pay out of pocket for other required tests such as toxoplasmosis titers and liver function tests, which can be very expensive. People need to show a government-issued identification document, known as a documento unico de identidad (DUI), in order to receive treatment. People without a DUI are often denied treatment.

What Patients Will Need

In order to accelerate the process and avoid out-of-pocket costs for laboratory tests, patients should be encouraged to have the following:

  • A 3-month supply of their current HIV medications, if available
  • A recent CD4 T-cell count
  • A recent viral load test result
  • A copy of their medical chart, including complete antiretroviral treatment history

Connecting to Care in El Salvador

  • National Register of Natural Persons (Registro Nacional de las Personas Naturales [RNPN]) (for information on the Documento Unico de Identidad [DUI]). (Spanish)
  • National Association of Positive People "New Life" (Asociación National de Personas Positivas "Vida Nueva")
  • Hospital Zacamil - (503) 2272-2000 ext. 259
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