Different reasons have forced many people to migrate in search of a better life and key populations such as gay, trans and people with HIV are no exception. For many, Costa Rica seems to be a place to start again. However, starting from scratch in another country can have certain complications, and being gay or trans, brings about discrimination and stigma. This not only affects their quality of life by excluding them from enjoying their legal and labor rights, but it also prevents the recognition of this population as individuals of rights to health, especially in terms of access to anti-retroviral drugs and medical care for the control of the infection.
According to data from the Office of the Ombudsman, 17% of the complaints received for the institution concerning the health service have to do with lack of access to care in social security. Discrimination, abuse and exclusion persist in the health system of the country.
“If we compare Costa Rica with previous years, instead of improving, everything has deteriorated. The problem obviously for every person with HIV is the insurance: it is very difficult if you don’t have insurance or a stable job so you can enter the Costa Rican Department of Social Security (…)”, said Allan Rivera, President of the Association Manu.
There is approximately 8.000 people with HIV in the country and the majority is of middle and low class, and it is concentrated in men who have sex with men.
“I am a refugee, I’m gay and I have HIV. I was discriminated in a province of the country when I got to the consultation. The doctor attended me with a bad attitude, and in front of a group of people while I was on my way out, he told me that I shouldn’t have sex due to my health condition, so I felt discriminated”, commented a man with HIV, who preferred to remain anonymous.
Costa Rica has received people from many countries in the region, such as Nicaraguans, Panamanians and Colombians, among others. Statistics show that 10 out of 25 migrants have no access to treatment or health services.
To combat discrimination, it is necessary to develop a model based on awareness aimed at health personnel focused on sexual diversity and the right to health of people with HIV.