Costa Rica is the most visited nation in Central America with about 2 million visitors annually. With only 4.4 million of its own people and many undocumented immigrants, its transient culture makes accurate disease surveillance difficult. However, HIV is considered a steady-state epidemic. Annual HIV incidence has held steady over the last few years – especially among men who have sex with men (MSM).
PSI opened a Costa Rica office in 2002 to improve HIV/AIDS prevention strategies through social marketing. Since then, PSI/Costa Rica has worked to help prevent HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections by selling high-quality male in local markets at competitive prices. PSI/Costa Rica also works with the Ministry of Health and various NGOs to help train, educate and empower high-risk populations.
Costa Rica is also a part of the Pan American Social Marketing Organization (PASMO), along with Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama. PASMO's productive relationships with more than 50 nongovernmental and faith-based organizations, Ministries of Health, National AIDS Programs, wholesale and retail distributors, advertising agencies, research organizations, donor agencies and international organizations promote HIV/AIDS prevention and positive reproductive health programs.
- Health Areas
- Health Impact
PSI/Costa Rica estimates that in 2010, its products and services helped avert:
- 125 HIV & TB DALYs
- 287 Reproductive Health DALYs
- Health Interventions
- Improving Health in Costa Rica
Official estimates set HIV prevalence between 4.5 to 6.5 recorded cases per 100,000 Costa Ricans. However, the actual number of cases is most likely higher due to the transient culture and widespread stigma that prevents many from using HIV/AIDS-related health services. Transmission throughout Central America is typically associated with heterosexual sex – except in Costa Rica, which has a higher share of infected MSMs.
The “Tienes. Pidelo.” (Have it. Ask for it.) campaign targets high-risk groups in brothels, bars and night clubs. The campaign includes laying out educational material, demonstrating correct condom use and providing condoms to vulnerable populations.
Other PSI interventions target the more than half of Costa Ricans – 58% – who live in urban areas because they also have the highest rates of infection. The PSI/Costa Rica sales team uses nontraditional channels to promote the VIVE condoms as well as proper and constituent condom use in general.