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(BVI NEWS) – There are three new reported cases of HIV in the British Virgin Islands – all of whom are of a youthful age, the Ministry of Health has said.
The new cases range from ages 19 to 35 and were seen in the first six months of this year.
Commenting on the cases, Chief Nursing Officer with responsibility for family health Jascinth Hannibal said: “This number may seem lower than other years, but the disease can go undetected for months and even years.”
For the same period last year, there were two reported cases and in 2016, there were four.
Older adults should be tested too
Hannibal is also calling on older adults to know their status.
She said both the young persons and elders should get tested to ensure that they are aware of their status and take ‘proactive’ measures.
She said early diagnosis enables one to access treatment and care that is available in the territory, which would in return help them to live wholesome and healthy lives.
Hannibal referenced the United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) 2017 report which said 20 percent of people living with HIV in the Caribbean are aged 50 and older and an estimated 62,000 HIV positive persons are seniors.
Hannibal said despite gains in the prevention and control of the disease, this report advises that the Caribbean must quicken the pace if it is to meet the testing and treatment targets due in two years.
“The UNAIDS report said in order to reach these benchmarks, the region has to diagnose 54,800 more people, get 74,400 more on treatment, and achieve viral suppression among 103,000 more people living with HIV,” she said.
“By 2020, the expectation is that 90 percent of persons with HIV would know their status, 90 percent of persons HIV positive would be in care and treatment and 90 percent of persons on treatment will be virally suppressed,” she added.
Practice safe sex
Hannibal has called on members of the public to practice safer sexual habits, sticking to one faithful partner and using barriers and condoms with each sexual exposure.
Testing and condoms are available at all community clinics.