CHARLESTOWN, Nevis -- HEALTH officials in Charlestown have stepped up screening exercises for HIV/AIDS as they strive to stamp out the inequalities and stigma attached to the virus within the twin-island Federation.
This comes as the health officials have increased the number of tests conducted during this year when compared with those of 2020, according to data provided by Minister of Health in the Nevis Island Administration, Hazel Brandy-Williams.
In her speech to recognise yesterday (Dec. 2) as World AIDS Day, Minister Brandy-Williams revealed that 269 counselling and testing sessions were conducted last year, and that, 1o far, this year has seen 354 tests being carried out at the public laboratory.
She also spoke to the challenges being posed by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The Minister noted that COVID-19 is threatening the successes achieved over the last four decades, as it continues to place a burden on the limited resources on the island.
“With the demands of the current pandemic depleting resources and straining the health care workforce, the task of ending the AIDS pandemic may seem daunting. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has also unsurfaced more economic, cultural and social inequalities that, if not addressed, will significantly threaten the achievement of the goal to end AIDS by 2030,” the Minister explained.
Speaking specifically about Nevis, it was noted that the island stands committed to ending AIDS and its stigma, the COVID-19 pandemic and the growing inequalities facing people.
“The Ministry of Health continues to work assiduously with our local, regional and international partners to ensure that services are reaching those in need. We still have work to do in order to reach vulnerable communities who are hesitant to access available services. Human resource challenges also exist, but we continue to ensure that our health care workers are equipped with the technical expertise and resources to meet programme objectives and targets.”
The Minister called on those in society to help address inequalities by sharing their experiences and suggestions on how the Government could best be able to serve them and meet their needs.
Currently, 21 persons are living with the virus on the island - 12 males and nine females.