February 4, 2005
Adjusting to the AIDS assault

Persons affected by the HIV/AIDS disease need not whimper in a corner and lose their self-esteem. Frantic efforts are being undertaken to offer those afflicted as much of a normal life as possible and such victims are being encouraged to come out of the closet and benefit from medical support. {{more}}

Health and Environment Minister Dr. Douglas Slater, alongside Dr. Del Hamilton, Director HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Programme emphasised steps towards tackling the scourge last Tuesday.

The drive will intensify next Tuesday with the launch of the HIV/AIDS Stakeholders meeting carded for the Kingstown Methodist Church Hall.

Dr. Slater is looking forward to the allocation of a US $10M grant to the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), US$2.5M of which will be disbursed for the first two years of a five-year programme.

The money will prop up systems to assist in the campaign to eliminate the disease. In addition to defraying the cost of anti-retroviral treatment, the funds will help with training of persons to strengthen the measures to combat the epidemic.

Besides the grant, additional money from the World Bank has been allocated to ensure the battle to “break the barrier and keep the figure at a level” is maintained.

Dr. Slater, the parliamentary representative for South Leeward, exuded optimism as he echoed his contention that “there will be a cure for HIV/AIDS”.

It was for that reason that the Minister urged persons infected to “come out of the closet,” so as to benefit from the cure.

A medical doctor himself, trained in the Socialist Republic of Cuba, Dr. Slater stressed the need for the society to act positively on the AIDS outbreak and to overcome obstacles that face them.

The first AIDS case was reported here in 1984. Since then, according to Dr. Hamilton, 700 cases have been reported of which 400 persons have died. There were 81 reported cases in 2003 and 108 last year.