BASSETERRE, St Kitts, May 28, CMC – St Kitts and Nevis is reporting a decline in HIV-AIDS deaths with the government being praised for its efforts to have patients receive anti-retroviral drugs to deal with the deadly virus.
The Global AIDS Response Progress Report 2012 noted that the availability of free anti-retroviral therapy (ART), together with improved access to HIV/AIDS treatment and better information and education programmes had resulted in the decline of people who have died from the virus.
It said that the annual prevalence of AIDS-related deaths has remained at five per cent or less for the last 10 years, with one and four deaths recorded in 2010 and 2011 respectively.
“As of 2011, 58 persons living with advanced HIV disease are under medical supervision of which 50 receive ART. St. Kitts and Nevis has made significant progress in ensuring that persons living with HIV and AIDS are able to receive free of charge anti-retrovirals and supplements necessary to live healthy and productive lives,” the report noted.
It said that St. Kitts and Nevis reported its first HIV and AIDS case in 1984, and up until 2011 a total of 335 HIV cases were documented while 115 progressed to AIDS.
Data regarding the HIV trend annually was not readily available because of the variability in reported cases between years.
The report notes that “overall there is a preponderance of males who are infected with the disease, evidence has emerged that the epidemic is infecting and affecting both sexes without any clear distinction, and likewise indicating that an increased number of women are also bearing the burden of the disease.”
Additionally, data shows that in the distribution among the most sexually age group of 15-49, with the exception of the 15-19 age group, “males are most affected by HIV among all sexually active groups including 60 years and older.”
The report indicates that while some successes have been recorded in the voluntary counseling and testing programme (VCT), there is a great need for preventative and VCT strategies to focus more on the vulnerable and most-at-risk populations (MARPs).
While there has been a noted decline in funding from donors, the St. Kitts and Nevis government, guided by its 2010 – 2014 National Strategic Plan, is continuing to make HIV a priority and has reiterated its commitment “towards the reduction of HIV incidence, zero tolerance of stigma and discrimination and zero AIDS related deaths.”