HIV cases double in the BVI

By Caribbean Medical News Staff

Twice the number of HIV cases in the BVI has been reported as compared with the numbers last year. According to the BVI’s National AIDS Coordinator, Noleen Clarke, 11 cases were reported up to end of last month. Only five were reported in 2012.

Clarke indicated that in spite of the rise, this does not necessarily indicate that the actual numbers have doubled but rather, that those who contracted the illness are now making the discovery.

According to Clarke, 30% of those diagnosed are over the age of sixty which she said warranted a more aggressive public awareness campaign promoting sexual health among older people. “Nine cases were reported in 2008 and 2009 respectively with seven in 2010, six in 2011, five in 2012 and 11 so far for this year,” said Clarke.

“It is important to note that the more than 50% rise in the number of new infections over the last year, does not necessarily mean that HIV is on the rise in the Virgin Islands. We have increased access to HIV counselling and testing within the health sector, and have been diligent with contact tracing so that persons who have been infected over the last 10 years now know their HIV status,” Clarke explained.

“This reinforces the need to scale up sexual health promotion especially to the older cross-section of our population via the health sector, at our workplaces, faith-based organizations and via the media,” she indicated. She was speaking at the HIV/AIDS Foundation’s fundraiser at Governor’s House last Friday.

Between June 1985 and the end of last month, the territory recorded a total of 114 HIV/AIDS cases.

The number of reported cases between June 1985 and December 2007 was 67.

According to Clarke, forty-one people are still living with the illness. Of these, 20 are males, alongside 21 females. All patients are on anti-retroviral treatment and have access to local care. Clarke also indicated that 36 patients have been prescribed first-line treatment, while five patients are on the more costly second-line therapy.

Since 1985, five babies have been born to women living with HIV/AIDS in the territory. Two were tested HIV positive. One baby died in 2006 while the other baby is still alive and being treated. Since 1985, there have been a total of 38 AIDS-related deaths.

“For us at the Ministry of Health, it matters not where, but that persons who are living with HIV get the care and treatment that they need to live well; live long with an improved quality of life,” she added.

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