HIV Cases Remain High In The Bahamas
A new UNAids Report shows that in the past 10 years, new HIV infections have fallen by 14.3 per cent in the Caribbean but below the 20 per cent global decline. Data show that the direct impact of antiretroviral treatment has resulted in a 43 per cent decline in Aids-related deaths, well above the 20 per cent global decline in the past 10 years. The Caribbean HIV epidemic, one of the oldest in the world, is beginning to change course because of the declining number of new HIV infections and increasing number of people living with HIV in this region. In 2009, there were between 230,000 and 290,000 people living with HIV in the Caribbean, an estimated 260,000 in the wider Caribbean including Guyana, Belize and Suriname.
Data show that an estimated 18,000 people became newly infected with HIV in the Caribbean, fewer than 21,000 in 2001. In 2009, 12,000 people died from Aids-related illnesses. This number is closer to half of what it was in 2001, ie, 21,000. This is a 43 per cent decline. “These data show that prevention is working and treatment is having a positive impact on lives of people living with HIV,” said Ernest Massiah, director of the UNAids Caribbean Regional Support Team. However, the challenge is how to accelerate the progress accomplished during these past 10 years.
At the end of 2009 an estimated:
260,000 (230,000-290,000) people were living with HIV in the wider Caribbean.
18,000 new infections occurred during that year.
12,000 people died from Aids-related illnesses.
Prevention is working
The 2010 report contains basic data from 182 countries and included country-by country scorecards. The report gives new evidence that investments in HIV prevention programming are producing significant results in some Caribbean countries. From 2001 to 2009, the rate of new HIV infections stabilised or decreased in five countries: Haiti, Belize, Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Suriname. Data show that the decline in new HIV infections is the result of safer sex practices. For example, in the Dominican Republic HIV prevalence declined from 0.6 per cent in 2002 to 0.3 per cent in 2007 among young people. However, data show that in countries like the Bahamas, Barbados and T&T, the adult HIV prevalence remained high or has increased.