Basseterre, St. Kitts, December 3, 2021 (SKNIS): The Federal Ministry of Health has made considerable strides in the fight against HIV/AIDS via investment in medication, equipment, education, research and sensitization campaigns.
On December 1, 2021, the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis joined the rest of the world in commemorating World Aids Day 2021 under the theme “End Inequalities, End AIDS, End Pandemics”. In a featured address, Minister of Health, the Hon. Akilah Byron-Nisbett, outlined several accomplishments by the Ministry of Health in the fight against HIV/AIDS, while also placing a special focus on at-risk persons.
“At the national level in St. Kitts and Nevis, over the period 1984 to September 30, 2021, 475 cases have been reported of which there were 148 deaths. During the last five years 2016 to 2021, 73 new cases have been reported and when disaggregated, 72.6 percent (53) are male and 27.4 percent (20) are females. While among the total number, a startling 35.6 percent (26) are between the ages of 20 to 39 years old. Out of the total number of pregnant women tested for HIV during the last five years, only four were positive for HIV. However, owing to timely diagnosis and antiviral therapy, there were no incidents of mother to child transmission of HIV, thus, resulting in the World Health Organization (WHO) certification for St. Kitts and Nevis for having eliminated mother to child transmission of HIV and congenital syphilis,” said Minister Byron-Nisbett.
Locally, the number of clients on treatment has increased by forty (40) compared to 2017, and the number of cases with suppressed viral load has increased by twenty-six (26) more than in 2017. The incidents have also decreased with three (3) deaths less than in 2017, highlighting the progress made by the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis via the Ministry of Health.
“St. Kitts and Nevis continues to make significant strides relative to the UNAIDS international 90/90/90 target which refers to three (3) key steps that are essential to improve health and care for HIV positive people and limiting new infections and the further spread of the HIV virus. The first 90 means, 90 percent of all people living with HIV should know their status. The second 90 means 90 percent of all persons diagnosed as HIV positive to be on a sustained antiretroviral treatment (ART) of which we have attained a 59 percent rate and the third 90 percent speaks to clients on ART having an undetectable viral load of which 57 percent have been realized by the Federation compared to the figures of 2020,” said Minister Byron-Nisbett.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), division, disparity and disregard for human rights are among the failures that allowed HIV to become and remain a global health crisis. Now, COVID-19 is exacerbating inequities and disruptions to services, making the lives of many people living with HIV more challenging.