Basseterre, St. Kitts, December 02, 2016 (SKNIS): Senator and Minister of State responsible for Health, Honourable Wendy Phipps, has revealed that of the 270 persons in St. Kitts and Nevis who are living with HIV and AIDS, only 61 are accessing treatment.
She said this during her address in observance of World AIDS Day 2016, previously noting that globally approximately 36.7 million people are living with HIV, but only 18.2 million of them receive treatment.
“There are approximately 270 persons in our country living with HIV – this number being garnered from the total number of reported cases minus the total number of reported deaths,” Minister of State Phipps said. “Of this figure, only 61 persons are accessing treatment, representing just 22.6 percent of our HIV positive persons.”
She also mentioned the number of new cases in the Federation.
“About 18 new cases have been confirmed as of October 2016 – 7 females and 11 males,” Senator Phipps said, noting that the annual rate is rising because of an increase in the number of persons being tested. “In previous years, the annual average number of new cases has floated between 12 and 15. As of November 2016, a total of 3,583 HIV tests have been done in St. Kitts alone.”
She quoted regional statistics provided by the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA),
“We are witnessing some 83 percent of reported cases of HIV being in the 15-54 age group,” Minister Phipps said. “According to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), 50 percent of this group are between 15-34 years old.”
As such, Minister of State Phipps said everything possible must be done to spread the word about HIV prevention and advocate for all persons to know their HIV status by getting tested. Messaging and advocacy regarding safe sexual practices she said must also be aggressively sustained – to save lives and prevent new infections.
Activities coordinated by the National AIDS Secretariat and the Ministries of Health on both islands supported this effort, with a high school Abstinence Drive, Red Day, Testing Day, a “Hands Up” for Prevention selfie photo-shoot and a Condom Drive.