Imagine living in a poverty-stricken country with limited medical resources as you try to tackle the challenge of a rapidly escalating epidemic of HIV/AIDS. Add to that the fact that the majority of the medical community around you is unaware of this huge problem as you face it everyday in the lives of your patients. This is the challenge that Dr. David Segurondo faces everyday in La Paz . Dr. David has been been working with the HIV/AIDS population in Bolivia for the last thirteen years and has watched an alarming trend. There has been a 35% rise in cases since 2004 and the illness is moving from minority groups to the population at large. The 20,000 sexual workers that bring in over 150,000 clients constitute a major threat in Bolivia.
Dr. Mark Ottenweller, Director Global AIDS Program, HOPEworldwide , visited Bolivia last week and met with the Interdisciplinary HIV/AIDS teams of both La Paz and El Alto at Hospital Arco Iris and spent time listening to their situations and challenges, recounting his experiences in Africa and offering practical, relevant input. The meeting went on for over three hours and ended only when it had to come to a close. The team was hungry for information and eager to do all in their power to meet their patients’ needs. The following day the board of health representatives along with physicians from throughout the community met for another meeting with Dr. Ottenweller in which they shared about their work with the HIV/AIDS population. Dr. Mark’s expertise was much appreciated and the contact was made for them to be able to receive more input as needed in the future. It was another outstanding opportunity for HOPEworldwide and Hospital Arco Iris to serve the people of Bolivia.