Eduardo G. Arathoon, Medical Director, Asociacion de Salud Integral (ASI), Guatemala City, Guatemala
How you have helped GAFFI so far? GAFFI has helped us by providing support for a program called Fungired. This program has a Reference Mycology Laboratory that serves 15 HIV clinics in Guatemala. The project also provides continuous medical education to the people that work in these centres through the implementation of an on-line course, to educate their health personnel in the use of antiretroviral treatment and opportunistic infections, fungal infections are the main cause of death of people with AIDS in the country.
Personal comment on the major needs in Guatemala which GAFFI should be addressing: Fungal infections in developing countries are a major cause of death and often not reported or recognised. In order to improve awareness, friendly educational programs and the implementation of Reference Mycology Laboratories are needed. Access to the essential antifungal drugs: liposomal amphotericin B and 5-FC, is non-existent in more than 90 per cent of developing countries, this reality will probably be relieved as we improve the documentation of the fungal burden of countries and regions. If access to health is not improved in developing countries, the amount of people living with HIV that have low CD4 counts at the time of diagnosis, will not improve and fatal fungal infections will continue to exist.