Ag. Public Health Communications Specialist
Ministry of Health and Social Development
Telephone: 468-3701 ext. 852 7742
The “Test and Treat” mechanism which ensures better outcomes for the immune system in the prevention of HIV transmission as well as its progression to Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), has been initiated in the Virgin Islands.
“Test and Treat” is offered to all persons who are diagnosed with HIV, regardless of the CD4 levels. CD4 cells or T-cells are a type of white blood cells that play a major role in protecting the body from infection. Once a person is infected with HIV, the virus begins to attack and destroy the CD4 cells of the immune system. HIV uses the machinery of the CD4 cells to multiply and spread throughout the body.
National HIV/AIDS and Sexual Health Programme (NAP) Coordinator Mrs. Noelene Levons Clarke said that the Virgin Islands has been consistent in monitoring HIV clients’ CD4 and Viral Load levels at least twice per year and more often for persons who are not yet stabilised.
She said, “This monitoring mechanism also assists in the reporting of HIV cases identified in the Territory as there were three newly reported cases from January to June 2015. In total, the Virgin Islands has reported a total of 120 cases of HIV since the start of the epidemic in 1985.”
Mrs. Levon-Clarke stated that due to this monitoring mechanism, the Virgin Islands and Cuba are among the first set of Caribbean countries to request validation for the Elimination-of-Mother-to-Child-Transmission of HIV/AIDS and Congenital Syphilis from the World Health Organisation (WHO).
She added, “The Virgin Islands qualifies for validation, given that we have only had one child being born with HIV over the past five years and so WHO officials will visit the Territory in October to evaluate the health services and provide validation for EMTCT [Elimination-of-Mother-to-Child-Transmission].”
The NAP Coordinator cautioned that persons who are most-at-risk for acquiring HIV/AIDS continue to be heterosexual males and females, homosexual males, young persons between 24 and 44 years of age and persons over 50 years of age. The average age of persons being diagnosed is 35 years of age. In 2013, it was noted that 30 percent of newly reported cases were over the age of 60 years.
For more information on HIV/AIDS testing and counseling services, telephone Mrs. Noelene Levons-Clarke at 468-4371 or send an email to email@example.com.
The National AIDS Programme in the Ministry of Health and Social Development functions as the HIV/AIDS focal point for the Virgin Islands and collaborates with local, regional and international agencies to mitigate the socio-economic impacts of HIV/AIDS.