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World AIDS Day – stigma and discrimination still of concern in fight against HIV/AIDS

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St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN) – On December 1, the global community commemorates World AIDS Day and this year’s theme is “Equalize”.

Health officials and institutions worldwide are committed to stopping new cases of HIV, securing the rights of people living with HIV, and fighting HIV stigma and discrimination.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) aims to end the spread of HIV/AIDS by 2030 through testing, prevention and treatment.

Locally, the National AIDS Secretariat in St. Kitts and Nevis continues its campaign to educate people about the virus and advocate for people’s need to know their status, use protection and end the stigma surrounding the virus.

In a statement from the Prime Minister and Minister of Health, Hon. Dr Terrance Drew who wrote on social media, “Coming out of a pandemic; it is easy to overlook the general epidemic that still exists in our fight against HIV/AIDS. So today, we are reminded to continue the fight until we can eradicate its existence. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) joins partners to commemorate World AIDS Day 2022 under the theme “Equalize”. WHO is calling on global leaders and citizens to boldly recognise and address the inequalities which are holding back progress in ending AIDS; and equalise access to essential HIV services, particularly for children and key populations and their partners.”

In the Americas, the Caribbean maintains the highest incidence of reported HIV/AIDS cases, with 350,000 and 590,000 Caribbean people living with HIV/AIDS.

The Minister of Health provided local stats of people in the Federation living with HIV/AIDS. To date, 213 individuals live with HIV/AIDS in St. Kitts and Nevis: 137 males and 76 females – 13 new cases. 

Although a positive diagnosis no longer means a death sentence, that is only true for people with access to testing and treatment and if people take advantage of the services provided by the local AIDS Secretariate, which are provided free of charge.

Dr Drew ended his statement by reminding the public that the focus on preventative measures should be maintained to reduce the spread of the virus. 

“But that is not enough. We also need to secure the rights of people living with HIV by doing all we can to fight HIV/AIDS stigma and discrimination, including protecting their confidential records and treating them with dignity,” said the Prime Minister. 

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