By: St. Clair Sazam Hull
(CHARLESTOWN NEVIS)-On the morning of Monday, December 1, 2014 the Ministry of Health on the island of Nevis conducted a rally and a ceremony to commemorate World AIDS Day 2014 under the theme, ‘Close the gap’. The event started with a march from the Methodist Church in Charlestown and culminated with a ceremony at the Elquemedo Willett Park.
The ceremony began with the Invocation. This was followed by the National Anthem.
Chairperson of the ceremony, Mrs. Nadine Caines, gave the opening remarks. She noted that World AIDS Day was an opportunity to harness the power of social change, to put people first and close the gap. Mrs. Caines claimed that ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 is possible but only by closing the gap between people who have access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services and people who are left behind. She continued, “Closing the gap means empowering and enabling all people, everywhere, to access the services they need”.
Clinical Care Coordinator, Dr. Judy Nisbett, also gave some remarks. She indicated that in order to prevent the disease from spreading, everybody will have to play a role. Dr. Nisbett noted that, “we cannot sit back and believe that we are okay because at any given time anybody can get infected once they are sexually active”.
The doctor indicated that since the first case of AIDS was reported in 1987, there has been a decrease in the annual incidence of both AIDS cases and AIDS-related deaths in Nevis. She indicated that data suggests that over the past few years, HIV/AIDS cases are more prevalent in the age range 25-49 years. In conclusion, Dr. Nisbett said that treatment for HIV/AIDS is available for free.
Deputy Premier and Minister responsible for Health in the Nevis Island Administration (NIA), Hon. Mark Brantley, also spoke briefly. Brantley told the gathering that we must try our best to prevent getting diagnosed by the devastating disease. He noted that a country’s economy is all about its people and if people are sick then the economy of the country is stifled. Brantley also stated that as a young boy growing up and hearing about AIDS, it was very scary and one would have thought using the same bathroom as someone who was infected could have resulted in AIDS been transmitted. He indicated that persons now know that was not the reality at all. In closing he urged persons who cannot abstain from sexual intercourse to be wise and use protection.
Mrs. Shelisa Martin-Clarke gave the vote of thanks.