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1 In 50 People In Nation Has Hiv, Report Warns

By MORGAN ADDERLEY

Tribune Staff Reporter

madderley@tribunemedia.net

THE country's main supplies of HIV/AIDs drugs have been restored, Health Minister Duane Sands confirmed yesterday.

In an interview with The Tribune, Dr Sands addressed the status of HIV/AIDs in the country, including The Bahamas' rank as having the highest prevalence of HIV outside Sub-Saharan Africa in the world and the international goal to eliminate the disease by 2030.

According to the "Global AIDS Monitoring Report: 2017", released by the Bahamas Ministry of Health, at the end of 2015, 8,667 people were listed as living with HIV in The Bahamas.

"This means that roughly 1 in 50 persons in The Bahamas in 2015 was HIV positive", the report says.

However, that same year 226 people were diagnosed with HIV -- a 43 percent drop from 2006, when 396 people were diagnosed.

Despite the drop, The Bahamas still ranks 17th in the world for HIV/AIDs adult prevalence rate, according to statistics by Index Mundi.

This puts the country below states such as South Africa (4), Kenya (12) and Tanzania (13) but above Rwanda (20) and Nigeria (21).

The Bahamas also has the highest rate in the region.

In reference to these statistics, Dr Sands said, "It is what it is. I mean, it is an acknowledgement of the…prevalence of HIV in The Bahamas."

Dr Sands said a combination of sexual behaviour -- both heterosexual and homosexual -- contributes to these high figures.

He added that mother-to-child transmission accounts for a "small contribution", but added the in recent years the country has virtually eliminated this.

When asked what can be done to further facilitate the downward trend in transmission and decrease the country's ranking, Dr Sands suggested adopting the 90-90-90 strategy by 2020.

"Ninety percent of people infected with HIV should know their status. So we need to get to a point of nearly universal testing of Bahamians to know their status."

"To have 90 percent of persons who are HIV positive to be on antiretroviral therapy. And to have 90 percent of people who are on antiretroviral therapy to have adequate suppression of the virus.

"We are nowhere near that right now," Dr Sands added.

"We have challenges with continued stigmatisation of certain high risk or vulnerable groups. And that interferes with individuals seeking or accepting therapy."

"We have a very conservative public approach when it comes to matters of human sexuality. And not withstanding the fact the general manifestation of sexual behaviour is not so conservative."

In late March, it was reported that there were HIV/AIDs drug shortages at facilities in New Providence.

At the time, Dr Sands noted that the country was at a "critically low level" of supplies.

Yesterday, he confirmed that supplies have been restored.

He added that health officials have increased the criteria for treatment and recognise that not all patients in The Bahamas can be adequately treated with either first- or second-line medications.

"And so while the supplies of antiretrovirals or HIV medications has been repleted, the fight against HIV is constantly going to have a moving goal or goal post," he said.

When asked to elaborate, Dr Sands reference the high number of patients in the country.

"We have roughly 8,000 patients living with HIV/AIDs. And we would like to have those individuals have a constantly improving quality of life. We want to minimise the number of new persons infected with HIV. And so it means that our approach will have to be constantly evolving."

This includes both the implementation and monitoring of treatments as well as counselling for children, teenagers, and adults "who face daily stigma and public recrimination".

"So, we can never ever rest on our laurels. It is a matter of constantly improving the care that is provided to those persons battling this disease, if we're going to get to a point where as the rest of the world has decided, we're going to eliminate HIV by 2030."

Comments

DDK 4 months ago

Is it politically incorrect to wonder how or why The Bahamas ranks as 'having the highest prevalence of HIV outside Sub-Saharan Africa in the world'? Not an honour I would think our or any population would wish for.

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joeblow 4 months ago

So we prolong their lives with HIV drugs and allow those with promiscuous lifestyles to live as normal WHILE promoting whining in the streets. How could we not end up here!

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DWW 4 months ago

this is a wonderful example of how bad mathematics is in this country - 320,000 divided by 9,000 is 35 not 50. WhTF writes and or proofs this crap. Trumpsy would say fake news maybe?

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TalRussell 4 months ago

Ma Comrades, regardless correct math being 1 out 50 or not - is not as alarming as how many are living with HIV but are not even aware they have it. Common sense would say if you live in a Shantytown and expect government render you help - it comes with the condition of undergoing a blood test for any contracted viruses. Theses places are ripe contracting and spreading bad stuff.

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TorontoGal 4 months ago

People have to stop having unprotected sex. Just look at the number of babies being born to young women who are not in permanent or secure relationships. None of the men in these cases have used condoms...the easiest way to prevent infection is to wear one.

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tell_it_like_it_is 4 months ago

You are so correct. I also find it humorous that the posters here seem to think that HIV/AIDS only affects a particular 'class' of people. The rich and the poor live with HIV once you have unprotected sex. Additionally, there are people who may NOT be promiscuous but acquire HIV. It only takes one time people! Our youth especially have misconceptions about unprotected sex and what can happen.

Then there's that whole other category of "sweetheartin" people (who bring it into their homes) and abusers who give it to their young victims. This is a complicated issue. Whether it is 1 in 50 or less, it means at least one person that we know has HIV and we don't even realize it. It's a very sobering thought.

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joeblow 4 months ago

At the end of the day the problem is a lack of moral discipline. We have built an entire culture around the concept of "rights" meaning doing what feels right not what IS right! Promiscuity and chastity are MORAL choices!

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Sickened 4 months ago

People are led by example and our nation's greatest and most respected leaders are our priests and politicians. No wonder sweethearting and HIV and crime is rampant!!!

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licks2 4 months ago

Read the CIA information site and we will find that Haiti has the highest rate per ca-pita in this region. . .also with the highest rate of rural poor entering this country undocumented, untested and possibly a carrier. Since health officials do not report on citizenship of positive persons. . .are we reporting our carriers alone or are we reporting Haitians, Cubans, Jamaicans and others living here or just indigenous Bahamians? Our official mind set is do not ask the nationality question so that irregulars with the virus may come in for treatment!!

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