The Ministry of Health and Social development is reporting the lowest cases of new HIV/AIDS infections since 2007.
Coordinator of the National HIV/AIDS & Sexual Health Programme Mrs. Noelene Levons-Clarke reported that so far this year, only three new cases of HIV have been recorded.
Mrs. Levons-Clarke noted that the Territory is seeing a reduction in the number of new cases and the spread of HIV infection. This achievement she attributes to enhanced public awareness and education spearheaded by the Ministry of Health and Social Development.
“The first case of HIV/AIDS was reported in the BVI in June of 1985. By the end of December 2014, a total of 119 cases of HIV/AIDS were reported. The number of new reported cases between June 1985 and December 2006 was 64” Ms. Levons-Clarke stated.
Since then, three new cases were reported in 2007, nine in 2008 and 2009, 10 cases were confirmed in 2010, six cases in 2011, five in 2012, and in 2013 10 cases were recorded.
“Although we still seem to have a few challenges in being effective with abstinence and faithfulness to one partner, condom use has definitely increased among men and women,” The Coordinator noted adding, “Increased access to HIV testing has also enabled us to achieve our target, as many more persons who have tested negative for HIV are more empowered to keep their negative test result.”
The Coordinator reported that a total of 38 AIDS-related deaths have occurred within the Territory since 1985, 80 persons in the Territory are living with HIV and know their status and there is one report of a mother to child transmission. The child, according to Mrs. Levons-Clarke is doing very well on Anti-retroviral Treatment (ART).
She further stated that the availability of anti-retroviral treatment has enabled persons living with HIV to achieve and maintain very low viral loads which in turn have decreased the risk of transmission. Persons are however, encouraged to practice safe sex, monogamy and get tested to know their status.
“We are still encouraging all residents of the Territory to have an HIV test especially if they have never tested before. HIV does not have any age, gender, ethnicity, religious beliefs or social status barriers and can affect us all, which makes testing a very vital part of the equation.” Mrs. Levons-Clarke said.
She added that it is not just good enough for persons to know their status but it is important that they know the status of their potential sexual partners.
The National AIDS programme is committed to mitigating the health and socio-economic impact of HIV/AIDS on individuals, families and communities of the Virgin Islands.