Costa Rica – country goes back on universal access to treatment

vihmedicinasFifteen years ago, Costa Rica was a pioneer in universal access to antiretroviral therapy. However, today the reality is different: requirements demanded to people with HIV have left many of them without access to medicines.

A few weeks ago, Costa Rican activists put in evidence the situation of abandonment that suffer hundreds of people with HIV, who are unable to access antiretroviral treatment because of the regulations of the Costa Rican Department of Social Security.

Since the ‘90s, the country has offered antiretroviral treatment to all citizens with HIV who require it. All this is thanks to the hard work of organizations of civil society and the Constitutional Court, which in the ‘90s, ordered the Costa Rican Department of Social Security to provide universal HIV treatment.

On the other hand, most recently this past May, Rosibel Zúñiga, of REDCA in Costa Rica, took advantage of the presence of the Vice-President of Costa Rica to demand improvements in the supply of medicines. Ms. Zúñiga denounced that the Costa Rican Department of Social Security has stopped the provision of medicines to persons who were unable to donate to the Department of Social Security, either because they lost their employment or suffered reductions in their incomes and was impossible to maintain a voluntary contribution.

The situation facing Costa Rica goes against the General HIV Law, which in its 7th article states that “every person with HIV has the right to medical, surgical, psychological assistance and counseling. In addition, to any treatment that guarantees them to improve their condition and relieve, as far as possible, the complications caused by this health situation”.

The organizations of civil society and activists in the area have exerted pressure to the Costa Rican Department of Social Security. In this way, activists, representatives of different organizations, delivered a statement during the signing of the project financed by the Global Fund for AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria with the allegations in question.

Finally, it is worth remembering that the country was a pioneer in universal access to treatment, so we should not allow that the current administration overshadows an effort that took years of hard work, letting hundreds of people with HIV affected by this.