by Donella Hosten
Joining with the international community, Grenada marked World AIDS Day on 1 December, 2016 under the theme “Hands Up”.
The chosen theme symbolised support to persons affected by HIV & AIDS. Persons wrote uplifting messages in the palms of their hands and posted picture displaying them.
A number of social partners, including the Grenada Planned Parenthood Association (GPPA), GrenCHAP, GrenAIDS, the Grenada Red Cross Society, Leo Club and the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) have come together with the Ministry of Health to raise awareness about the need for general health and sex education.
There is a great need for persons to be properly educated about the use of condoms and other preventive measures.
According to Grenada’s Senior Medical Officer and National HIV Programme Coordinator, Dr Francis Martin, there have been 21 new reported cases of HIV for 2016 thus far. He said this is a decrease compared to last year’s 41 cases, which was also the one of the highest numbers recorded.
Dr Martin said Grenada has been showing a decrease over the years. “We are testing more”, he stated, and from the figures from this year’s Regional Testing Day, the numbers showed that Grenada recorded a 300% increase” of tests done.
However, even though the recorded number of cases is decreasing, there is a growing concern about the number of men being tested. Dr Martin said that there is a “higher incidence of HIV among the male population as compared to the female population, yet still less men are being tested,” which is quite troubling.
Statistics from the UNAIDS Joint United Nations Programme on HIV & AIDS done in 2015 has revealed that St Vincent and St Lucia have the two highest recorded cases of HIV. The other countries in the Eastern Caribbean have roughly around 150 to 300 reportedly living with HIV.
Another focus in Grenada, according to Dr Martin, is that of children and HIV. Grenada along with countries like Barbados and Dominica are among the first to achieve success in the area of eliminating HIV transmission from mother to child.
As part of the sustainable development goals, Grenada joined along with the rest of the world to commit to end the HIV & AIDS epidemic by 2030.