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Welcome to the NAC

This information has been made possible through the support of the Global Fund and its special funds of the Country Coordinating Mechanism Grant.  The National AIDS Commission of Belize aims to provide updated and relevant information on HIV for Persons Living with HIV, at-risk groups, social partners, health professionals, the public and other stakeholder in the response to HIV.   The information here has been made available for all visitors to access the facts they seek so that together we can reach our national goals of zero new infections, zero deaths and zero stigma and discrimination.

National statistics indicate that the Belize District continues to have the highest reported numbers of HIV incidence followed by Cayo more recently. The data for 2012 new HIV infections reveal a 10% increase from the previous year. The data further showed that the ratio of new infection for male to female was 1.47:1 and a male positivity rate of 1.51% compared to 0.54% for female.  Emerging data along with other recent studies indicates that Belize may have a concentrated epidemic among specific sub-populations.   The Belize’s HIV Strategic Plan addresses these developments in the response by calling for more research, increased targeted and behavior change communication education and coordination of programs and services as important initiatives towards reducing the spread and impact of HIV and AIDS through sustainable systems of greater access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support.

We hope that you will find the information on this site useful and invite you to forward any questions or comments to ausher@nacbelize.org.

Who We Are

The National AIDS Commission of Belize

The National AIDS Commission was appointed by Cabinet and officially established in February 2000. The principal objective of the NAC is to coordinate, facilitate and monitor the national response to HIV/AIDS as well as the National Strategic Plan. The Commission also has the shared responsibility for Advocacy, Resource Mobilization, the development of Policy and Legislation, and over all monitoring and Evaluation of all interventions and efforts.



To effectively coordinate, facilitate and monitor the national response to HIV and AIDS and the Strategic Plan so as to reduce the incidence and spread of HIV/AIDS and provide comprehensive, quality support for persons living with HIV/AIDS.


Overall Goals

  • By 2016, Belize has halted and began to reverse the HIV incidence rates among young people, men who have sex with men and sex workers
  • By 2016, the AIDS-related deaths, especially among men living with HIV in Belize, will have decreased by 30%
  • By 2016, systems will be in place to fully understand the essential features of the epidemic in Belize
  • By 2016, Belize will have significantly reduced discrimination against persons vulnerable to HIV



By the end of 2016, Belize will have continued to reduce the number of HIV infections; extended the length and quality of life of people with HIV and their families; significantly reduced discrimination against persons vulnerable to HIV; and effectively coordinated a multi-sectorial response which is human rights based and gender responsive.

National AIDS Commission of Belize

Mrs. Laura Longsworth MSN.RN., Chair of the National AIDS Commission of Belize

Joan Burke, Belize Family Life Association

Dr. Marvin Manzanero, Ministry of Health

Eric Castellanos, Collaborative Network of Persons Living with HIV

Ruth Jaramillo, NAC Monitoring and Evaluation Sub-committee

Luwani Cayetano, National Council for Families and Children

Melanie Montero, Belize Family Life Association

Abel Vargas, Hand in Hand Ministries

Chris Aird, Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports

Aniki Palacio, Ministry of Labour, Local Government, Rural Development, NEMO and Immigration and Nationality

June Sanker, Ministry of Tourism and Culture

Eckert Middleton, Department of Youth Services, Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports

Kyle Miller, Youth Representative, Department of Youth Services, Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports

Canon Leroy Flowers, Council of Churches

Cynthia Williams, Women’s Department

Erin Ryan, Belize National Energy

Guadalupe Huitron, Pan American Social Marketing Organization

Caleb Orozco, UNIBAM

Clemente Novelo, NAC/CCM Corozal District Committee

Elisa Castellanos, NAC/CCM Orange Walk District Committee

Berwick Busano, NAC/CCM Stann Creek District Committee

Joan Palma, NAC/CCM Toledo District Committee

Eva Burgos, NAC/CCM Belmopan Committee

Sylvia Alvarez, NAC/CCM San Ignacio Committee

Dennis Craft, NAC/CCM Island District Committee


Opportunistic Infections

HIV/AIDS and Opportunistic Infections

HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) attacks the body's white blood cells -- specifically a subset called CD4 or helper T cells. This attack allows opportunistic infections to take advantage of a weakened immune system, and can lead to illnesses, cancers, or neurological problems. If you have HIV and develop an opportunistic infection, your HIV infection may have progressed to AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). But with careful monitoring, self-care, and treatment, you can prevent many infections and stay healthier if you do develop an infection.


Where HIV Opportunistic Infections Come From

A wide variety of germs can cause HIV opportunistic infections. These include bacteria, viruses, protozoa, or fungi. Even before you have HIV, you have many of these in your body. But a healthy immune system normally keeps them under control. These are examples of other places where you can pick up germs that cause HIV opportunistic infections:

  • Unwashed raw foods
  • Soil or water
  • Contact with animal feces
  • Contact with other people, through unsafe sex or in places where germs are common, such as hospitals, day care centers, or schools
  • Contact with blood through sharing needles or intravenous drugs


Common HIV Opportunistic Infections

Almost any disease can become an HIV opportunistic infection when the immune system is weak. Some are more common than others, though. And some are more likely to occur at certain levels of CD4 counts than others. Here are some of the more common HIV opportunistic infections:

  • Candidiasis (thrush): a fungal infection in the mouth, throat, or vagina.
  • Cryptococcus neoformans (Crypto): a fungus that can lead to meningitis, a serious inflammation of membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord.
  • Cryptosporidiosis and microsporidiosis: protozoa affecting the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Cytomegalovirus (CMV): a virus that causes eye disease and can lead to blindness. It can also cause severe diarrhea and ulcers.
  • Herpes simplex: viruses that can cause severe genital or cold sores.
  • Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC): a bacterium that can cause fevers, problems with digestion, and serious weight loss.
  • Pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP): a fungus that can cause fatal pneumonia.
  • Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML): a virus affecting the brain.
  • Toxoplasmosis (Toxo): a protozoa that sometimes causes encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain.
  • Tuberculosis (TB): a bacterial infection that attacks the lungs and can invade other organs. TB can lead to meningitis at its most severe.

There are some differences between women and men with respect to opportunistic infections. Here are a few of them:

  • Men are eight times more likely to develop a cancer called Kaposi's sarcoma.
  • Women are more likely to develop bacterial pneumonia and herpes simplex infections.
  • Women are also more at risk for certain infections that can lead to cancers of the reproductive system.

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