GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – World AIDS Day was observed on December 1st. It provided an opportunity to increase awareness, education and a greater understanding of HIV as a global public health issue.
This holiday season, the Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a department in the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour (Ministry VSA), calls on the Sint Maarten community to take time out to remember and pay respect and tribute to those that they have known who passed away from the disease.
CPS also reminds members of the community to practice safe sex this holiday season.
Currently there are many scientifically proven prevention options that health services can offer to help people prevent HIV infection and protect their health.
These measures include new options such as self-administered HIV testing, which can be done at home, and the availability of HIV testing in places other than health centers. In Latin America, 2 in 10 people with HIV and 4 in 10 in the Caribbean do not know they have the virus, which represents an improvement over last year. Early diagnosis improves the quality of life of people with HIV and also helps prevent new infections. To benefit from such it is recommended for persons to get tested.
The 2017 theme for World AIDS Day was: “Everybody counts. End AIDS.”
The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) in collaboration with UNAIDS, launched the report, HIV Prevention in the Spotlight – An Analysis from the Perspective of the Health Sector in Latin America and the Caribbean, which analyzes the progress made and the challenges faced by health systems in preventing HIV transmission.
The focus on HIV combination prevention, early detection and access to antiretroviral treatment are essential to end HIV transmission. Governments, health service providers, international organizations, civil society organizations, people living with HIV, key populations and other stakeholders should work together in the response to HIV.
The PAHO/UNAIDS reports indicate that expanding access to all HIV prevention options that are now available would reduce the number of new cases of HIV in Latin America and the Caribbean, which since 2010 has remained at 120,000 every year.
According to the report and UNAIDS data, the majority (64%) of new HIV cases occur in gays and other men who have sex with men, in sex workers and their clients, in transgender women, in people who inject themselves drugs, and in couples belonging to those key population groups. In addition, one third of new infections occur in young people aged 15 to 24.
The report advocates what is known as the combination prevention approach, which is based on scientific evidence, respect for human rights and non-discrimination, and which includes three elements: offering a comprehensive package of biomedical interventions to users, promotion of healthy behaviors, and establishment of enabling environments that facilitate access to and use of prevention measures.
The AIDS epidemic in the Caribbean 2016 according to UNAIDS data says there is an estimated 310,000 (280,000-350,000) people were living with HIV in the Caribbean as of 2016; Approximately 18,000 (15,000-22,000) new HIV infections occured in the region.
Some 9,400 (7,300-12,000) people died from AIDS-related illnesses in the Caribbean. Between 2010 and 2016, the number of AIDS-related deaths in the region declined 28%.
Treatment coverage reached 52% (41% -60%) of all people living with HIV in the Caribbean and fewer than 1,000 new HIV infections occurred in children in the Caribbean.
There are incremental steps made in HIV which leads to some wins but to guarantee 100% it takes all persons to collectively work together in creating opportunities by means of providing the collected data, documenting and sharing on the various experienced scenarios to be used as input to improve or develop effective preventive programs, services, treatment and management and to provide care.
The success is dependent on each one to comply and implement the advised preventive measures/tips and realize the necessary tasks/assignments.
CPS advises let us collectively work along the 2017 theme for World AIDS Day was: “Everybody counts. End AIDS.” Additional concerns consult your family physician or the Sint Maarten Aids Foundation.