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Costa Rica initiates a transition process to achieve a universal response to the HIV epidemic in the country and to achieve its sustainability, in this way it faces great challenges.

Source: Corresponsales Clave

By: Dennis Castillo

The project “Costa Rica, a sustainable model of Combined Prevention and Assistance to the Population of Men who have Sex with Men and Transgender Women”, known as the HIV-CR Project, which was funded by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, enters its transition phase, which will bring very important challenges to achieve the goals established in the 90-90-90 strategy.

Closing meeting and presentation of results of the first phase of the project.

The project arrived with education and timely and inclusive assistance to 10,000 men who have sex with men and 400 trangender women; 4,425 rapid HIV tests were performed on these populations, which have always been highly stigmatized and more vulnerable. These actions will continue to be strengthened in the transition phase and more relevant actors will be involved in the response.

The interaction between the public sector and civil society was a work apprenticeship that should be highlighted in this project, responsibility and commitment was reached by different governmental instances and the leaders of the different organizations that put all the effort in the tasks and demonstrated autonomy, experience and ability to solve problems.

For Laura Sánchez, project director, the main challenges in the implementation were the coordination between civil society organizations and government, as this is not usual, and the strengthening of civil society organizations in terms of greater capacities in governance, organizational structure, project management, communication, social marketing, etc.

It can be said that with this implementation the country has made significant progress in the national response to the HIV epidemic, with the inclusion of organized civil society, with elements of the public sector and with the support of international organizations and the cooperation of the Global Fund.

Now, the country is preparing to give way to a second round of continuity: the transition itself, with some challenges for the financial sustainability of civil society organizations, in which the State also has responsibilities. “We need that the organizations can get really and effectively access to the resources that are legally disposed of the Social Protection Board’s earnings for organizations working on HIV. In addition, another of the biggest challenges is that state institutions continue to do what they are doing until now, in terms of prevention and care, which means to continue investing at least the same thing – ideally more – in a situation of fiscal deficit”, said Sánchez .

However, accessing these profits is not easy, there is a whole mechanism, sometimes it is very tiresome for civil society organizations, but it is expected that during this stage of transition, the processes will be improved, making them more agile and effective for access the funds.

This new phase goes until July 2019 and will have coverage in 13 cantons of the great metropolitan area, decentralizing the attention and reaching the key population of other areas that have not been able to be addressed comprehensively. The State, as such, should look closely at the actions that are being carried out and will be carried out in the coming months to make sustainability a reality.