Trinidad concerns about high HIV/AIDS rate

By Caribbean Medical News Staff

Trinidad and Tobago says that the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is on the rise in that country and UNAIDS Country Coordinator for the twin-island republic Izola Garcia said that while there has been a decline in new infections and deaths between 2008 and 2011, the numbers are increasing as it relates to new infections as of 2012. World AIDS Day was observed on December 1 and the theme this year, and until 2015, is Getting to Zero – zero new HIV infections, zero AIDS-related deaths, zero stigma and discrimination.

“It is estimated that 14,000 persons are presently living with HIV in Trinidad and Tobago. Based on the 2010 Treatment Guideline, 5,565 of the estimated 7,495 persons who need treatment are receiving it. With the new treatment guideline where persons are recommended to be placed on treatment earlier, it is estimated that the number of persons who need to be placed on treatment will increase to 12,000 persons,” she said.

She also indicated that the increase was likely based individuals having unprotected sex, using inconsistent protection, multiple partners or not using protection/condoms correctly. She also said that people living with HIV were not always staying on their treatment which made their partners open to infection.

Garcia emphasized the need for greater information and education. According to Garcia, this education must involve the public and private sector, NGOs, individuals, partnerships and the community while building a stigma-free environment.

“Many people lose their jobs or cannot get jobs because of their perceived HIV status or sexual orientation which does not dictate their ability or fitness to work. This has an impact on the lives of individuals, families and the economy, thrusting people sometimes into poverty or into illegal activity to make ends meet, which may also put them at further risk,” she said.

She indicated that the observance of human rights was critical not only to HIV/AIDS but in general.

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