FOR those who remember the challenges this country has gone through in dealing with sexually transmitted diseases, today’s news of continuing declines in cases is the kind of news that seemed impossible to dream of at times.
The total number of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) dropped between 2011 and 2022, with chlamydia cases dropping by 43 percent and – remarkably – new HIV cases dropping by 63 percent over the past ten years.
In October, the nation marked the passing of Dr Perry Gomez, a former Minister of Health but perhaps more importantly for the nation a pioneer in reducing the number of HIV cases in The Bahamas.
At the time of his death, Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis talked of Dr Gomez’s “groundbreaking work in reducing mother-to-child transmission of HIV using AZT treatments”, but it was the other stories told at the time of how Dr Gomez went above and beyond using his own clinic in the fight against HIV/AIDS that touched the heart.
He founded and directed the national HIV programme, and created the AIDS Clinical Services programme at Princess Margaret Hospital.
He was not alone in the fight, by any means, but he was out in front at a time when people were still suspicious of dealing with people who had HIV, and when even talking about it could be a taboo subject.
So to hear now how cases have dropped dramatically is a validation of every person who took part in that battle to defeat HIV/AIDS.
Education has proven to be a big part in the battle when dealing with STIs, with Dr Nikkiah Forbes, the current director of the National HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Programme, yesterday reiterating the preventable nature of such infections. She pointed out the effectiveness of condoms in preventing STIs, but as readers of The Tribune will know there are also regular clinics taking place where people can get tested for free as well. Treatment of HIV/AIDS is also free, and a new oral self-test has just been launched as well, to try to ensure as many people as possible who need a test can take one.
Simply put, STIs can be tackled by knowing how to stay safe, using safe methods, and testing to be sure you are clear.
That sounds simple – but it is a huge advance to be able to have that discussion in those terms from where we are all those years ago.
Plaudits then to all who have played their part in bringing about such a change.
The outcome is vital – it means saved lives. It means people not experiencing infertility or pregnancy loss. It means a future for those who might not have had one.
For that, all involved deserve every bit of praise.
This week is a moment to pay tribute to two men who played a prominent part in the media landscape of The Bahamas.
Today is the first anniversary of the passing of Eugene Duffy, the former managing editor of The Tribune.
Eugene will be well known to many readers and contributors to The Tribune, a former editor of The Mirror newspaper in the UK and a determined newspaper man who relentlessly pursued stories.
He was also the editor through the lockdowns of COVID, a challenging time when staff worked from home and still managed to get the newspaper out every day, filled with stories to let people know how the battle against the pandemic was continuing – and many more stories besides.
This week also sees tribute being paid to The Tribune’s former chief operating officer and ex-controller at 100 Jamz, Steve Haughey. Steve, who died in August, went on to become chief operating officer at Colina Holdings (Bahamas), and was well thought of by those who dealt with him, or who encountered him through his passion for running and fitness, or through Rotary.
On Thursday, there will be a celebration of his life from 4pm-6pm at the Bahamas National Trust Retreat Gardens.
We commend them both for all their achievements, and hope that they rest in peace.