By Gideon Aurelien
(SNO) — Saint Lucians are being asked to get tested so as to know their HIV status as the total number of persons living on island with the virus now stands at 781.
The Ministry of Health, over the years, has been pounding out that message with force, however of late the voice carrying out that message is that of Acting Senior Medical Officer for Infectious Diseases, in the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Dr. Gail Gajadhar.
Pleased that the number of new cases over the years 2015, 2016 and 2017 has basically remained the same: 46, 42 and 44 respectively, the doctor has renewed the call for Saint Lucians to come forward and be tested.
Her tone seems to take on an urgency to it, as a breakdown in the numbers living with the virus shows that men numbered 408, women 330, while the remaining 43 being listed as unknown.
St. Lucia News Online has been able to gather that the number of new cases of HIV infection each year does not equal the number of persons who die as a result of the disease for the same year.
In fact, the new cases are much higher in number to the number of persons who pass away, a situation that may very well have to do with the free medication afforded to persons with the virus on island, thanks to a grant from the Global Fund that deals with eliminating sexually transmitted diseases by the year 2030.
That grant, which was given to the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) in April 2016, will end in the next six months, however the sub-region is currently in the process of applying for a continuation of that grant so as to continue the work it is engaged in regarding the reduction of HIV within its borders.