Perú Survey Finds Huge Gaps In Reproductive and HIV Health Care

  • June 22, 2011
  • News

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Peruvian women, especially those living outside the capital city of Lima, are receiving inadequate sexual and reproductive health care, according to a new study by AID FOR AIDS’ Observatorio Mujer VIH y Sida.  The problem is significantly magnified, notes the study, when reproductive health care intersects with the treatment of HIV and AIDS.
The “Study on the Quality of Attention for Women in Peru’s Healthcare System” was based on questionnaires filled out by women found in clinics throughout Peru during their wait time at the waiting room prior to their appointments at the healthcare facilities. The study, encompassing Lima and 12 other local Peruvian observatories, found the overall level of women’s healthcare in the country to be poor. The lack of sexual and reproductive freedom for women is a major contributor to that situation, notes AFAI director of advocacy Enrique Chavez.
“In most rural areas, for example, condoms are not even available to women in hospitals and clinics, because women are not deemed to have the right to decide with whom to have sexual relations,” says Chavez. “In addition to this, women don’t even know where to go when they are victims of domestic violence.”
He adds that the lack of women’s reproductive rights also comes into play in the treatment of pregnancies complicated by HIV. The survey found that Peruvian doctors overwhelming lean toward saving the baby at the expense of the mother’s life. “The medical profession needs to establish a link between sexual and reproductive rights, and HIV treatment,” argues Chavez.  “We need to educate doctors to become advocates for women living with HIV or AIDS.” 
In addition, the Observatorio Mujer study examined how the discriminatory attitudes of health care professionals in Peru toward sex workers and pregnant single women adversely affect the level of health care that those vulnerable populations receive.
Finally, the study highlighted a large gap between the quality of women’s healthcare in the capital city and in smaller cities and rural districts. But even in Lima, according to Chavez, there remains much room for improvement .
Obervatorio Mujer (http://www.observatoriomujervihsida.org), currently operating in Peru, is an online tool for women’s community organizations and AIDS activists to ensure that their concerns are represented in decision-making processes.

Read The Completed Study Here