by Curlan Campbell, NOW Grenada
- Study shows people’s perception has not changed much since the first recorded case in 1984
- Stigma and discrimination also comes from healthcare workers
Age-old myths surrounding the spread of HIV/AIDS still exist according to the finding of a study conducted by Senior Medical Officer attached to the Ministry of Health, Dr Francis Martin. The study was conducted on the sister isle of Carriacou but is not exclusive to the island. It indicates that people’s perception on the spread of HIV/AIDS has not changed much since the first recorded case in 1984.
Dr Martin said similar research conducted in Grenada years ago produced similar results. People surveyed were mostly young and middle aged, and would have attained a secondary education hence the reason why Dr Martin said after 30 years of managing the health risk associated with HIV, this is quite disheartening. “There are still some serious gaps as it relates to people’s perception of HIV. People are still thinking that it is not possible to pass on HIV from mother to child. People are still thinking that you can get HIV from using same eating utensils so those gaps reinforce the fact that we have a long way to go in terms of our HIV/AIDS awareness campaign, in particular dispelling many of the myths surrounding the HIV transmission and treatment.”
Dr Martin said that unfortunately, stigma and discrimination also comes from healthcare workers. “I hate to have to say this but unfortunately a lot of the stigma and discrimination occurs even among healthcare workers and that makes it difficult for those living with HIV and those caring for others with the virus and so that is going to be a focus for our national programme.”
He said the HIV campaign has received a boost with the hope of reaching more people. “Our programme is being boosted nationally. We are in collaboration with the OECS Commission on Tuberculosis (TB) and HIV elimination with a focus on HIV/AIDS prevention and care and treatment of those infected.”
The Ministry of Health reminds the public that HIV/AIDS can only be spread through the following.
- unprotected sex
- from mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding
- injecting drugs with a needle that has infected blood in it
- infected blood donations or organ transplants
Other casual contacts with a person infected including kissing, hugging, sharing foods, bathing, insect bites, coughing, toilet seats will not contribute to the spread of HIV/AIDS.