Founded in 1997, the Agua Buena Human Rights Association was created and
has evolved in response to the crisis surrounding the AIDS epidemic in Central
America, with a focus on access to medical treatment for People who Live
We originally worked to support People with AIDS in Costa Rica when they
began their struggle, early in 1997 to obtain AIDS medications. They were
successful in September of 1997 when the Costa Rican Constitution Court ordered the government to provide anti-retroviral (ARV) therapy to all
people with AIDS in Costa Rica (LINK). As of September of 2000, more than
900 people with AIDS receive ARV therapy in Costa Rica.
Early 1998, I traveled to Panama where I met Orlando and Norma Quintero.
Orlando is a physician living with AIDS. The Quinteros invited me to Panama
after hearing news of the Costa Rican decision.
In Panama at the time, there were no anti-retrovirals available and the Quinteros were spending over $600 monthly for Orlando's medical treatment.
Towards the end of my visit Norma Quintero made the decision to come out publicly as the wife of a Person Living with AIDS in an interview in a major
Panamanian daily newspaper.
Shortly thereafter, she and Orlando founded the non-governmental
organization called PROBIDSIDA, which defends the rights of People Living with AIDS in Panama. PROBIDSIDA began a year long struggle with Panamanian
Health Care authorities which culminated late in 1998 when the government
began to provide anti-retroviral therapy to People with AIDS who were enrolled in the government's health insurance program. Panamanians who do
not have this insurance, which is a sizable portion of the population,
remain without treatment.
Also, 1998 I established
contact with Odir Miranda, a Salvadoran Person Living with AIDS. Odir
came to Costa Rica and participated in activities with PWA groups
here. Returning to El Salvador, Odir founded the Salvadoran Association
of People Living with HIV/AIDS which is called ATLACATL.
(firstname.lastname@example.org) Miranda has come out publicly and
been interviewed extensively in the press in Panama. Articles relating
to Salvadoran AIDS situation can be found at the following links:
The situation continues to be very complex in El Salvador as the government has failed to comply with a decision issued in February of 2000 by the
Interamerican Human Rights commission, ordering them to begin to provide
ARV therapy to 36 plaintiffs who had signed an appeal. As of this date,
September, 2000, Miranda is continuing negotiations with the government. On August 31st, people from all of the Central American countries joined
Miranda and several hundred others in a march through the center of San Salvador, designed to protest the government's policies (link....not yet
I have also made visits during the past three years to Nicaragua, Guatemala,
and Honduras, in order to support the organization of strong groups of People Living with AIDS, and to provide training and information about
strategies that might be effective in obtaining access to critically needed medications.
After our recent visit to Nicaragua in July of 2000 it was clear that the
situation in that country is desperate and disheartening. People with AIDS have no access to treatment, and, in many cases do not even get medications
for opportunistic infections.
In Honduras the situation is also very grim. Devastated in 1998 by
Hurricane Mitch, the government there has its hands full just meeting basic medical services and needs for the general population. The new ARV
medications with their astronomical prices, are way beyond the government's
capacity to help.
For this reason, in 2000 our Association has made a major to focus on the
prices of the medication for People with AIDS, controlled by the billion
dollar pharmaceutical industry which is based in the United States and
Europe. We are helping to investigate the possibility of the production of
generic medications which would lower the coast of the ARV treatment
considerably. There is a lot of information on these pages about the movement to lower the prices of AIDS medications throughout the developing
A parallel focus of the Association involves the situation of sexual
minorities in Central America. In many case the leaders and organizers of the access to treatment movement are gay men who have had to face the double
stigma of homosexuality as well as AIDS. Our visits to the Central American
nations include contact with various organizations which support human rights for sexual minorities throughout the
Another focus of the Agua Buena Association is to attempt to draw attention
to those who have the power and resources to be able make changes and to
encourage and where, necessary, pressure them to do so. There has
historically been very little support provided in this region by UNAIDS and the Pan America Health Organization (PAHO) when one considers the potential
resources that these two groups could offer in support access to improved medical
Our Association has no stable funding source. We have occasionally received
donations which enable us to carry out our activities and to travel to the
various other Central American nations.