2 700 Bajans living with HIV
It is estimated that about 2 700 Barbadians are living with HIV.
This is according to Senior Medical Officer Dr Anton Best.
He said the number was based on information up to the end of 2017.
Best said when compared to five to ten years ago, the rate of increase of people living with HIV remained steady.
While not providing figures for 2018, Best said the ministry remained concerned that people weren’t coming forward to be tested.
“We are concerned that we still have high rates of HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STI). Based on that concern, what we need to do is sensitise the public more about their general sexual health so they can make better choices and people can get screened for STIs and get tested for HIV,” he added.
However, Best said the challenge they faced was the stigma and discrimination attached to HIV, which caused people not to get tested.
“With the high level of stigma and discrimination, people don’t come forward to get tested and when they do get tested and diagnosed, they don’t access services. And that’s what’s hurting us from a public health perspective.
“We need people to be in care, and for them to be getting the treatment and the services that they require to be well,” he explained.
Best said in order for the authorities to continue fighting the disease, people must come forward and get tested.
“More people need to get tested and to be diagnosed at an earlier stage with HIV in particular. If more people came forward to get tested for STIs, we could diagnose more and treat the onward transmission,” he added.
Best said based on their figures, the infection rate had only been marginally reduced. And he said based on the most recent behavioural survey, the rates of condom use remained low. This too, said Best, was concerning. (DB)