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Over 300 Tested with HIV in St. Kitts & Nevis since 1980s but Deaths on Decline

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marcell-liburd-3Basseterre, St. Kitts-During the past 26 years, the total number of persons who have been tested positive with HIV in the twin island state of St. Kitts & Nevis, has amounted to 318, according to statistics released by the Ministry of Health.

In a nationwide address, to mark World AIDS Day, on Thursday, 1st December, 2011, Minister of Health, Ms. Marcella Liburd, revealed that, “In our Federation, the data shows that from 1984 to 2010, 318 have tested positive for HIV. We have seen a decline in the number of deaths related to AIDS and an increase in the number of persons affected with the virus who are living healthy, productive lives. We have also seen the success of more persons knowing their HIV status, thus protecting themselves and others. We have scaled up our programs and this has accounted for the great strides we have made over the last five years. But there is much more to be done.”

Liburd stated that the progress made so far is proof that we can realize our vision of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths. She indicated that new infections are continuing to decline in most parts of the world, so we should make this the same in our Federation.

Among populations at risk, the tide is shifting, stated Liburd. She continued, “Access to HIV prevention services and creating the enabling environment are the keys to helping those at risk take control of their health, for their own well-being and the country’s greater well-being.  Treatment has averted 2.5 million AIDS-related deaths since 1985. Last year alone, 700,000 lives were saved. Some 6.6 million people, that is, nearly half of those who need treatment in low- and middle-income countries, are now receiving it.  Synergies between prevention and treatment are speeding up progress.  But to end AIDS, we need to deliver even greater results.”

The St. Kitts & Nevis Health Minister is of the view that the divide between health and AIDS has narrowed, as AIDS comes out of isolation and into integrated and holistic health services. The AIDS response has paved the path for a people-centered health delivery system, one that values and restores the respect and dignity of every individual, stated the Minister.

However, the statistics around the world are alarming.  Already, more than 30 million people have died of AIDS-related diseases. In 2009, 2.6 million people were newly infected with HIV, and 1.8 million men, women and children lost their lives. 33.3 million people around the world are now living with HIV.   In 2009 it was estimated that 240,000 people were living with HIV in the Caribbean. Some 17,000 people were newly infected and 12,000 persons died from AIDS.

Liburd shares the view that, ‘It takes a village to fight HIV/AIDS…Getting to Zero’.

This is also the theme chosen for this year’s observance, with the hope that we can continue to challenge misconceptions about HIV in our communities. Citizens are being asked to become the voice for change, by promoting the objectives of the National AIDS Program—education, testing, involvement, treatment and tolerance. All people, regardless of their lifestyle or HIV status, can and should get involved with spreading the HIV/AIDS prevention message to their families and communities.

“Today, on this the  twenty third (23rd) World AIDS Day, I call upon our leaders: faith based, business, political, community, and on our parents, guardians and particularly our young people to work together towards a world, and indeed a Federation with Zero new HIV infections, Zero discrimination and Zero AIDS-related deaths, “ said the Minister.

 


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