THIS week has proven a remarkable one for hopes of tackling a scourge for the world – and very much so for our nation.
A second person appears to have been cured of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This is remarkable not least for the fact that it is 12 years since the first person was cured. It has taken that long for researchers to repeat the feat.
Having repeated it once, the hope is now of course that it will be able to be repeated again – and again.
It is too early to say how likely it will be for this success to pave the way for a revolution in the way that we have been attempting to deal with the virus, and how widespread such a treatment might be if it comes to pass – but that’s not stopping The Bahamas from leading the way in its own right.
Health Minister Dr Duane Sands has set the country’s sights on becoming the first country to be free of HIV by 2030.
It’s a bold challenge – 5,500 people are affected by HIV in The Bahamas, and the first goal is to stop transmission of the virus from one person to another.
The Bahamas has stumbled in one regard in that – the rates of transmission from mother to child – but there is a sense of determination to make up for lost ground in that area, and go beyond to become the leading country in the world in tackling the virus within its population.
“Certainly by 2030 we believe that The Bahamas, if not the first country, will be among the first countries to eliminate HIV as a scourge,” he said.
In that we are sure he will have strong support from the Bahamian community – with campaigners such as the Bahamas AIDS Foundation having taken part in efforts to counter HIV for so long that this year the organisation celebrates its 25th Red Ribbon Ball.
That organisation is at the spear tip of a host of businesses and supporters who have backed their efforts to improve the lives of those affected, and advance education to stop the transmission of the virus.
More than that, too, the organisation works to reduce the stigma and discrimination that people with the virus suffer on a daily basis. These are people we should help, not close our doors on.
There’s an old story about two people on a journey when they come across a brick wall seemingly too high to climb. They took off their caps, and threw them over the wall because then they had no choice but to follow if they were to get their caps again.
Once, the wall that faced campaigners seeking to bring an end to the HIV virus seemed just as high, just as unscaleable. We are delighted to see that, faced with such a barrier, the government has taken off its cap, and hurled it across the barrier.