The prevalence of HIV/AIDS in Dominica’s is one of the lowest in the Caribbean says Coordinator of the HIV/AIDS Response Unit and Health Psychologist, Lester Guye.
“Over the years, cumulatively, Dominica has had just above 517 cases of HIV, our prevalence fortunate is one of the lowest in the Caribbean which is less than 0.75 percent and our incidents raise between 12 and 18 cases per year,” Guye stated while addressing a press briefing recently.
According to him, there is no specific data supporting the notion that persons living with HIV and AIDS are at a greater risk of contracting Covid-19 than persons unaffected, within the general population.
He said persons ages 60 and over with hypertension and diabetes are already at a great risk for more severe diseases like Covid.
“Clients are constantly reminded to liaise with their healthcare practitioners within their healthcare district or through the clinical care coordinator of the infectious disease through the National HIV and AIDS Response Program,” Guye said.
He continued, “We continue to provide treatment and care support to all our clients, but also their loved ones who we have identified as their support system.”
The Health Psychologist said that this family and love one support system is to encourage that these patients and clients continue to follow the national protocol as it relates to Covid-19.
He added that together with the healthcare provider or practitioner, those living with HIV should weigh the risk and benefits of attending vs not attending HIV-related clinic appointments.
Guye went on to say that the unit has established telephone or virtual visits for routine non-urgent care and adherence counseling which replaces in-person encounters when the need arises.
“Some of the responses that we have done during the Covid crisis to assist in the HIV fight included promotion of what we call pre-exposure prophylaxis, HIV self testing which is right now on the table within the region to help persons to have their test done rather than having to go to a healthcare facility, increased detection, encouraging self-care which is extremely important,” he stated.
Guye stated that one of the unfortunate challenges in Dominica is that a number of clients are from the lower economic status or are economically challenged.