Update to SLV28868.E of 3 April 1998 on the situation of persons with HIV/AIDS, including societal attitudes, treatment by authorities, access to health services and whether treatment differs between heterosexuals and homosexuals [SLV32102.E]

The following information is provided in a 7 May 1999 Tico Times article by Richard Stern.

Currently, the Social Security Institute of El Salvador (ISSS), which insures about 20 per cent of the Salvadoran population, provides only AZT to persons with AIDS and not anti-retroviral medications. A non-governmental organization called Atlacatl has filed a challenge against the ISSS with the Salvadoran Supreme Court for failing to provide these medications which are available only to those who can afford them. This leaves 80 per cent of individuals suffering from AIDS uninsured and with only "sporadic medical attention."

According to official statistics, 77 per cent of those suffering from AIDS are heterosexuals and 12 per cent are from the gay and bisexual population. "However, many gay men with AIDS said that they were heterosexual to avoid even worse discrimination."

In the article, president of Atlacatl, Odir Miranda, is stated as saying: "...those of us who have AIDS are viewed as easily expendable from society...our value is less because we are supposedly bad people for having contracted AIDS." Miranda had travelled to Washington in November 1998 to testify before the Inter-American Human Rights Commission on the issue of violations of human rights of those who live with AIDS in El Salvador. According to an AIDS Action report, Miranda was the first person to go public in El Salvador that he was living with AIDS (Sept. 1998).

Another Richard Stern article states that the country has no laws to protect people who are discriminated because of AIDS (21 Mar. 1999). The only countries in Central America which have passed laws against AIDS discrimination are Costa Rica and Nicaragua in 1998 (ibid.). The article also states that in February 1998, the Salvadoran Ombudsman (Procuraduría para la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos) ruled that it is the responsibility of the ISSS to provide "adequate treatment, including anti-retroviral medications, to its affilates who have AIDS." The decision, however, is not legally binding, but the Procuraduría plans to pursue the case (ibid.).

Please consult the May 1999 Tico Times article, available at Regional Documentation Centres in Toronto and Montreal, for information on cases of discrimination against persons with AIDS in El Salvador.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


AIDS Action, ACTUP, AIDS Prevention News. 3 September 1998. Richard Stern and Guillermo Murillo. "In El Salvador People With AIDS Report Cautious Optimism in Government Negotiations." [Internet] http://www.glilnn.com/news/aidsact. htm [Accessed on 16 June 1999]

Stern, Richard. 21 March 1999. "In El Salvador, People With AIDS Organize to Combat Discrimination." [Internet] http://www.beingalivela.org/elsalvador99.html [Accessed on 16 June 1999]

The Tico Times [San José]. 7 May 1999. Richard Stern. "AIDS Patients Battle Discrimination." Central America NewsPak [Austin]. Vol. 14, No. 6, 26 Apr.-9 May 1999.

Additional Sources Consulted

Central America Report [Guatemala]. 1998-1999.

ILGA Bulletin [Brussels]. 1998-1999.

International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC). Action Alerts [San Francisco]. 1998-1999.

Latinamerican Press [Lima]. 1998-1999.

Latin America Regional Reports: Caribbean and Central America Report [London]. 1998-1999.

Mesoamérica [San José]. 1998-1999.

Pan-American Health Organization Website. [Internet] www.paho.org.

Electronic Sources: IRB Databases, REFWORLD, LEXIS/NEXIS, Internet and WNC.