HIV/AIDS on the rise in Dominica

By Caribbean Medical News Staff

Coordinator of the National Response Programme for HIV/AIDS in Dominica, Julie Frampton says that HIV/AIDS is on the rise in Dominica. According to her, since the diagnosis was first made in 1987, there were 410 cumulative cases at the end of 2013. The Ministry of Health said that there were were 15 new cases of HIV/AIDS on the island in 2013 and Frampton reported that almost every year more males have tested positive for the virus.

Male epidemic

“Last year we had fifteen new cases and ten of them were males. What is interesting though, about our new cases now, we see the older age group, out of the 15 of last year, 14 of them were over 30. We have a male-dominated epidemic with over 70 per cent of cases being male. So the 410, from 1987 up to end of 2013, doesn’t mean that all those people are alive,” Frampton said, noting that the age group most affected by HIV/AIDS is 25-49 ,” said Frampton.

Helen Royer, Permanent secretary in the Ministry of Health, said the existence of HIV/AIDS cannot be underestimated as it poses a “serious challenge to humankind as to date there is neither a vaccine, nor a cure for HIV/AIDS”.

“We cannot sit idle by thinking that it’s not our business because HIV/AIDS is a human developmental problem fueled by many factors,” said Royer.

Frampton made her remarks while addressing a stakeholder consultation meeting for Dominica’s National Strategic plan for HIV/AIDS for 2015-2019. Concerned about whether the target audience is being reached, Frampton asked whether the strategy should be shifted to focus on older age groups as well.

Older people need to be targeted as well

According to Frampton, the stakeholder consultation’s goal is to sensitize stakeholders on the HIV/AIDS strategic plan and mitigate the negative impacts of HIV/AIDS in Dominica.

“In Dominica, we also have reasons to be concerned as we have over four hundred and ten infected persons at the end of 2013,” Royer indicated.

“The Ministry of Health realizes that for outstanding success, a multi-stage process would be required and before implementing, all stakeholders must be sensitized to the strategic plan, hence your presence today, “ she said.

The Caribbean has the second highest incident of HIV/AIDS in the world.

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