Peru: Helping those affected by violence

Domestic violence, a hidden but common problem in Peru, is often underestimated among the children and adolescents living in urban slums. Recognizing the enormous human cost of such violence, MSF has developed a program of workshops and trainings in the slum of Villa El Salvador that aims to empower children and adolescents and to improve their potential to succeed despite their violent childhoods. By developing protective mechanisms, learning about healthy relationships and understanding the need for resilience, the program's beneficiaries gain the confidence needed to escape the cycle of violence surrounding them. Expanding AIDS-related care Although health conditions in Peru continue to improve, many of the nation's poorest people still cannot obtain care. An estimated 76,000 people live with HIV/AIDS, and very few of them have access to affordable treatment. In 2003, MSF focused its activities on HIV/AIDS, with programs in Villa El Salvador, a slum on the outskirts of Lima, the capital; and in the Lurigancho prison. In the prison, MSF staff carry out more than 1,600 medical consultations each year, mostly involving care of people with sexually transmitted infections and opportunistic infections related to HIV/AIDS. While awaiting permission from authorities to begin an antiretroviral (ARV) drug treatment program, MSF undertook awareness-raising activities, home-care visits and outpatient consultations to treat opportunistic infections in HAMA Hospital. Due to bureaucractic delays, the first 20 patients started receiving ARVs in August 2004. MSF also spoke out on issues related to access to essential medicines - access that is threatened by current free trade negotiations between Peru and the United States. MSF emphasizes that a number of generic medicines, including ARVs, are available today for people living with HIV/AIDS but is concerned that the new trade agreement may undermine this situation for all future treatments and force people to buy more expensive, patented drugs. MSF has worked in Peru since 1985. International Staff: 6 National Staff: 42