New HIV cases almost triple for first quarter 2016

Participants at the Ending Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV workshop spent the day ensuring they are practising the same techniques. (Photo courtesy the Health Ministry)

Participants at the Ending Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV workshop spent the day ensuring they are practising the same techniques. (Photo courtesy the Health Ministry)

New HIV cases have almost tripled in Antigua & Barbuda for the first quarter of 2016, with 21 new patients testing positive for the virus, over  eight for the same period last year.

The statistics collected from the Mount St John’s Medical Centre and submitted to the AIDS Secretariat indicate the cases were confirmed between January 1 and March 3.

AIDS Programme Manager Delcora Williams said the statistics suggest the messages of abstinence, protection and monogamy is not being heeded.

“It is still alarming for us, and that means that somehow or the other they are not (adhering) to the messages that have been going out in how to prevent themselves from testing positive with HIV and AIDS,” Williams said in an interview.

However, she said, the secretariat only received the statistics yesterday, and she has not had an opportunity to properly assess the findings.

Speaking from yesterday’s meeting with mid-wives to look at ways of ensuring all stakeholders are on the same path to eliminating the mother to transmission of HIV, Williams said the intention is to continue targeting those who are at risk for contracting the virus.

Williams added that HIV prevention messages and access to HIV testing, counselling and treatment is available to everyone.

Asked if the AIDS Secretariat feels defeated in its attempts to decrease the number of new infections, Williams said no.

“The numbers could show an increase in the number of persons accessing an HIV test, which is a good thing, because now they can actually access care and treatment to live a healthy and reproductive life,” she told OBSERVER.

Of the new infections, there are three pregnant women infected with the virus.

(More in the Daily Observer)

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