What's Available in Guatemala
Not all antiretroviral medications are available in the country due to high costs. There are HIV prevention services for gay men (MSM), women, youth, and immigrant populations. Some programs offer mental health services for people living with HIV. There are a few AIDS hospices and orphanages for children living with HIV.
HIV Treatment in Guatemala
Guatemala has decentralized HIV treatment services. The services are offered at health clinics (Unidades de Atención) throughout the country. There are also private clinics and hospitals (not specialized in HIV) that offer HIV treatment for patients who can pay.
A law protecting the rights of people living with HIV in Guatemala was enacted in 2002, but the law does not have any sanctions for those who break it.
HIV Diagnosis, Referral, and Follow-Up
Once a patient is diagnosed with HIV (by a private clinic that provides HIV testing or public hospital), the patient is referred to an AIDS service organization or one of the public hospitals that offers HIV treatment.
The doctors at the hospital do an assessment of the patient’s HIV status, perform CD4 count and viral load test and a history of STI. The Guatemalan Health Department uses the CDC HIV treatment guide to determine when to initiate treatment.
Cost of Services
Doctor visits and HIV treatment are free of charge in public hospitals. People need to show a government issued identification document. HIV testing is free in public hospitals and clinics.
What Patients Will Need
To speed the process and avoid out-of-pocket costs for laboratory tests, encourage your patients to bring 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 the patient’s chart including complete antiretroviral treatment history