As a new year begins, Coordinator of the National HIV & AIDS Response Programme Julie has cited discrimination as the major problem which the organization continues to face.
She pointed out that since anybody can be exposed to HIV/AIDS, there should be no discrimination towards those who are infected.
“We need to encourage the public that, discriminating against HIV/AIDS infected individuals is not going to solve the problem, rather than make the epidemic more hidden at a time when we are appealing for persons to come forward to get tested and get treatment.”
Frampton said at the end of 2012, 397 new cases had been confirmed in Dominica since the first case was reported in 1987. She said more than half of those persons had died.
For 2013, with the exclusion of the month of December, 13 new cases have been confirmed, compared with 19 in 2012.
“It is a good thing when you record new cases, which means, more people are coming forward to get tested so you may see new cases and the aim of testing is to bring people into care and treatment,” Frampton noted.
She said the organization has a Clinical Care Team, to ensure persons living with HIV get the appropriate tests and health care and support they need.
Currently, 81 infected persons are being cared for by the National HIV & AIDS Response Programme, but not all are on treatment, Frampton reveals, pointing out that not everyone who is HIV positive needs treatment and they need to ensure they follow the World Health Organization’s guidelines which are constantly changing.
Mrs. Frampton noted, with the availability of treatment which is currently free of charge in Dominica, more people are living longer with the disease, but this is only possible when they come forward to get tested, as early detection is vital.
According to her, “We have all the modern treatment including the one pill a day, rather than having to take a handful of pills during the earlier years of the Organization.”
Young persons, she said, need to protect themselves and for those who will not abstain, to effectively mitigate their chances of contracting the virus by using condoms every time they have sex.
The highest incidence of HIV/AIDS in Dominica occurs in the age range of 25 and above. However, there are younger persons infected with the virus which Frampton said, indicates that no one is immune.
The National HIV & AIDS Response Programme Coordinator added that we are all responsible for our sexual health and it is important that the public cooperates with the organization to achieve its goal of zero new HIV/AIDS infections in Dominica.