has one of the highest HIV prevalence rates in the
Latin American and Caribbean region and a continually
rising rate of new infections. With an estimated 15,000-
25,000 people living with HIV and AIDS in 2003, Panama
has an overall prevalence rate of 1.5%. 524 young persons
under the age 24 have died from AIDS, and 8.3% of registered
AIDS cases correspond to young people between 15-24.
UNAIDS, in 2001, estimated the HIV prevalence of 15-24 year old males between
1.35 and 2.4% and between 0.9 and 1.6% among females.
Almost two thirds of HIV infections reported in Panama
are the result of heterosexual sex. This means that efforts
need to be made in providing accurate information, education,
and services on SRH and rights, with an emphasis on the
prevention of HIV, to all young people around the
country, in order to save the lives of thousands of young
The Panamanian Government is committed to fighting this epidemic. Toward this
end several legal and political actions have resulted in a framework for the
fight against HIV/AIDS. Panama has also achieved the incorporation of several
ministries and national institutions in its fight. An ambitious collaboration
between the Panamanian Family Planning Association (APLAFA), the Ministry of
Health, and nine high schools, assisted by UNFPA, has changed the lives of many
adolescents in five marginal semi-urban neighborhoods.
Through a combination of education, information and
health service initiatives, participants have been empowered
to change their thinking about their current lives and
future aspirations. As part of the four-year effort,
the Ministry of Health created five youth-friendly clinics.
Staff were trained in providing SRH services to adolescents.
The resources built by the initiative guarantee project
sustainability and institutionalization. The extensive
project coverage was possible due to the creation of
an Inter-Sectoral and Community Adolescent Network formed
by more than 15 private, NGO, and Government institutions,
which has reached more than 46,000 adolescents in the
district of David. The project also resulted in the creation
of a youth network for the promotion of SRH and rights
of young people in the region, which now contains around
28 active member organizations.
Sources: AIDS Epidemic Update, 2001. http://www.unfpa.org/hiv/docs/unaids-update1201.pdf