As many as 160,000 people in Colombia could be HIV positive and not even know it, according to a study by the United Nations Program on HIV/Aids (UNAIDS). The program’s national coordinator, César Núñez, said this is due to the fact that there is lack of awareness about condom use and many don’t feel personal concern over the chance of being infected. Symptoms can appear as late as five to ten years after infection, and Colombians tend to seek treatment only when their health starts to show signs of deterioration.
“The difference between those infected that we know of and the ones we don’t know of is that the latter haven’t been tested, usually because they don’t feel it’s something that they could have.” Núñez urged Colombians to reconsider their attitude towards the use of condoms because 98 percent of the HIV positive cases in Colombia are a result of unsafe sex.
A total of 5,650 people died of AIDS last year and experts believe this rate could be considerably lower if the disease is diagnosed sooner.