Today December 1st, 2022, we celebrate World AIDS Day, an opportunity to bring awareness to our commitment to HIV and AIDS education and prevention. Coming out of a pandemic it is easy to overlook the general epidemic that still exist 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 recognize and address the inequalities which are holding back progress in ending AIDS; and equalize access to essential HIV services particularly for children and key populations and their partners.
World AIDS Day reminds us to remain vigilante concerning the HIV/AIDS epidemic and bring back focus to the many underlying factors that still put our communities at risk such as, lifestyle issues including unprotected sexual activity and high-risk sexual behaviours.
According to CAREC, the Caribbean still maintains the highest incidence of reported HIV/AIDS cases in the Americas where in fact there are between 350,000 and 590,000 Caribbean people living with HIV/AIDS. To date we have a total of 213 persons living with HIV/AIDS in St. Kitts and Nevis: 137 males and 76 females. 13 of which are new cases.
Much effort has been exerted to educate the populace and wider global community on the dynamics of HIV/AIDS, but we must not become stagnant. The fact that a positive diagnosis is no longer seen as a death sentence, does not mean we should not still maintain our focus on preventative measures to reduce its spread and arm our most vulnerable populations with information and skills to protect themselves and others from the harms of contracting this disease is essential.
We stand as a government committed to preventing new cases of HIV/AIDS by equalizing access to essential HIV/AIDS services. 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.
Let us NOT take the advances in our treatment of HIV/AIDS as an opportunity to relax our efforts. As we celebrate our achievements in the fight against HIV/AIDS let us also look to continue the fight until this disease is eradicated from our lives and communities.
Protect yourselves. Stay Safe.