Govt calls for solidarity on 32nd World AIDS Day

Govt calls for solidarity on 32nd World AIDS Day
World AIDS Day was globally recognized on December 1, 2020. (PHOTO COURTESY OF THE PAN CARIBBEAN PARTNERSHIP AGAINST HIV/AIDS)

The Bahamas reaffirms commitment to fighting HIV/AIDS

NASSAU, BAHAMAS  — The Ministry of Foreign Affairs today reaffirmed its commitment to the fight against AIDS as the global community observes the 32nd World AIDS Day under the theme “Global solidarity, shared responsibility”.

Every year, on December 1, the world commemorates World AIDS Day with people around the world uniting to show support for people living with and affected by HIV and those who lost their battles with the disease.

“The Bahamas is committed to doing everything possible to ensure that those who are impacted by the disease receive the necessary treatment and are not stigmatized in society,” the ministry said.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the imperative of taking steps to ensure the safety and well-being of everyone in society.”

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has declared that health is a human right and it must be a top investment priority to achieve universal health coverage.

“On this World AIDS Day, let us recognize that, to overcome COVID-19 and end AIDS, the human rights world must stand in solidarity and share responsibility,” Guterres said.

Just over half of the 6,000 people infected with HIV in The Bahamas are on treatment, according to a UNAIDS 2019 report.

The report, released in December 2019, shows that 3,100 people or 52 percent of people with the immunodeficiency virus are on treatment.

This includes 40 children under 14 years old; 1,500 women; and 1,600 men.

There are twice as many men living with the virus as women, according to the report.

Of the more than 3,000 people living with HIV in The Bahamas who are on treatment, 1,000 were women and 2,000 were men.

According to the report, fewer than 500 people were diagnosed with HIV in The Bahamas in 2018.

This represents a 26 percent decline in new HIV cases over the previous year.

While The Bahamas continues to cross hurdles in the fight against the virus, the stigma of the virus continues.

Dr Norad Morgan, Ministry of Health clinical medical officer, said, “It’s mind-boggling to know that we are nearly 40 years since HIV has been discovered and people still have this fear and the stigma of discrimination remains there.”

Morgan noted that despite this, it has not prevented men from coming forward for healthcare.

“In healthcare in general, men tend not to access health services as much as women, however, in HIV medicine, I don’t think they access our service any less than women in term of testing, and even in treatment care and support, I think it’s equal.”

Morgan noted that men who have sex with men are also unashamedly seeking medical guidance as well, specifically accessing PREP.