Nevis Health Minister – Hensley Daniel
April 18, 2008
Minister of Health in the Nevis Island Administration (NIA) Hon. Hensley Daniel urged the Nevis public to give full support to the programmes of the HIV/AIDS Unit on the island given the social and economic cost of the disease.
The Minister was at the time addressing the situating with regard to HIV/AIDS on Nevis during a sitting of the Nevis Island Assembly in Charlestown on April 15, 2008.
He said the disease required continue efforts at the school, family and community level and as such it was of absolute importance that he brought the matter to the attention of the general public, given the impact HIV/AIDS had on the population and it’s potential to destroy the social and economic fabric of the society.
“The challenge we have in this small country is that the strong socio cultural norms continue to drive the epidemic. These norms continue to allow for the early sexual debut and multi sexual partners. As such the HIV/AIDS Unit has developed the ABC approach ““ Abstinence, behaviour change and Condom Use.
“It is absolutely necessary for us if we are going to stem the tide and reduce the huge financial impact of HIV/AIDS, it is absolutely necessary for us to spend some more time on abstinence and encourage our young people to abstain from sex. The “B” which is behaviour change and being faithful that is critical so that we reduce the number of sexual partners and “C” that we advice if it is to be done that we use a condom to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS,” he said.
The Health Minister explained that the Unit continued with its Behaviour Change Communication Programme and its Information, Education and Communication Programme. More importantly a Prevention from Mother to Child Transmission Programme had been developed at the Alexandra Hospital through which pregnant women are given medication to prevent them from passing on the virus to the newborn.
Though HIV/AIDS testing was not mandatory on Nevis, Mr. Daniel said he was hopeful that in time, with the moral suasion, persons would have the test take in an effort to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS.
He listed a several areas in which the NIA assisted persons who were afflicted with the disease.
“Fifteen persons are accessing care for anti retro viral drugs which is provided under the global fund for AIDS TB and Malaria. The Pharmacy at the Alexandra Hospital provides these drugs and the cocktail of drugs that they use total $3188 for every three months. That is just the cost of drugs alone. One CD4 test is $359 and Viral Load Test which is the test to determine the extent of the HIV infection $511. So the cost of keeping alive these “¦ persons who are in Nevis is significant.
“We have developed voluntary counseling and testing sites at the Gingerland and Charlestown Health Centres and this will allow for more people to access the services and be tested,” he said.
The NIA continued to work with partners such as the Pan Caribbean Partnership for HIV/ AIDS , the President’s Initiative for AIDS Relief; the Global fund AIDS TB and Malaria and United Nations HIV/AIDS Programme.
The HIV/AIDS Unit on Nevis reported that the situation on Nevis indicates that for the period 1987 to December 2007 a cumulative figure of 59 persons (30 male and 29 female) tested positive with the disease of which five were tested in 2007 (three female and two male).
The age group most affected by the disease ranged between 20-49 of which were 28 male and 21 female.
A report on the first quarter of 2008 was being compiled and had not yet been released.