Late stage HIV/AIDS diagnoses worries Barbados authorities

Doctor holding a bottle of blood sample

HIV/AIDS test (Credit: Caribbean360/Bigstock)

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Monday June 30, 2014, CMC – Amid continued decline in the number of persons diagnosed HIV/AIDS positive, authorities are concerned that many of those found to be infected are offering themselves for testing at late stages.

Acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr Elizabeth Ferdinand, has said, “What is of concern for us is the alarming fact that many persons with HIV are being diagnosed at a late stage of the disease, when they already have developed AIDS”.

Ferdinand’s comment came as Barbados last week marked Regional HIV/AIDS Testing Day, an annual event, now in its seventh year, organised by the Caribbean Broadcast Media Partnership on HIV/AIDS.

She noted that over the past 11 years HIV has moved from an almost certain cause of death to a chronic manageable disease.

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Ferdinand however said, “This does not mean that we can become complacent and forget that this disease is still waging a war against the very fabric of our societies. Therefore to reduce the number of people who are becoming infected with HIV, the national programme must continue to place emphasis on HIV prevention which is the bedrock on which our national policy rests”.

“Have a positive outlook, be responsible and place a greater emphasis on the importance of being tested. Knowing your status is the first step in the right direction,” she said.

With a population that hovers on the 280,000 mark, the latest Barbados HIV/AIDS Surveillance Report, released in 2012, shows HIV cases reduced from a peak of over 180 persons in the year 2000, to fewer than 140 in 2010; AIDs cases moved from 165 in 1998 to below 60 in 2010; and deaths declined from 120 in 1998 to under 40 in 2010.