Controlling HIV/AIDS In The Caribbean
Basseterre, St. Kitts
November 13, 2008 (SKNIS)
Minister of Health Honourable Rupert Herbert stressed that HIV/AIDS presents a unique challenge to St. Kitts and Nevis and the rest of the world.
During the launch of activities for the World AIDS Campaign 2008 on Wednesday, the chief government health official noted that the world has seen many epidemics and managed to cure most successfully.
“Way back in the 14th century during the early industrial revolution in Europe, there was an epidemic called the Black Death which [killed millions] of persons. However, it was eradicated. There have been other epidemics such as tuberculosis, which have been eradicated,” Minister Herbert said. “Over 25 years ago, we first heard of AIDS and up to this moment, no one can say that a cure has been found for AIDS.”
The Minister also mentioned that other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as gonorrhea and syphilis have been cured “but AIDS is unique” and remains a challenge.
Adding to the difficulty in stopping the disease medically, is the challenge of stopping its transmission.
“We have been leading in terms of the programmes and policies to combat the disease. We have empowered our people through education [using] the radio and television to help spread our message,” said Minister Herbert. “The programmes that we have instituted and implemented in the areas of treatment, care and support have been working pretty well, but to date we cannot say that we have grappled the problem so successfully, that we can rest on our laurels.”
The senior government official noted that AIDS is a national issue and required an even greater national response. He congratulated the public and private sector agencies along with faith based organizations, civil society and individuals who have helped to address HIV/AIDS and its accompanying issues such as prevention, and stigma and discrimination.
“We must join hands, and make a commitment to keep the promise and help in the fight against HIV/AIDS by making responsible choices, and by changing behaviour patterns that put us at risk. In so doing, we can ensure that overtime we can reduce and perhaps eventually eradicate the scourge of AIDS,” stressed Minister Herbert. “Keep the promise. Protect Yourselves. That is your duty,” he concluded.