Categorized | News, Regional

Hundreds of people in Antigua not receiving treatment for HIV

JOHN’S, Antigua, Oct 13, CMC – The Clinical Care Coordinator in the Antigua and Barbuda Health Sector, Dr Maria Pereira, says hundreds of HIV positive people here are not receiving treatment.

“Since the end of June, 2015, the number of persons who have tested positive for HIV in Antigua and Barbuda is 1,078 and of those, about 264 have died and 251 are in care treatment. So there are quite a number of persons who are HIV positive and who are not in care treatment,” she said.

Dr. Pereira said that she was recommending that everyone who is aware of his or her status to access treatment, aware that “it might be difficult to access because sometimes many of us know in society there is a lot of stigma, discrimination associated with the virus”.

She said Antigua and Barbuda was lagging in its application of World Health Organization/Pan American Health organization (PAHO/WHO)) guidelines which call for among other measures that people with HIV to be given anti retroviral drugs as soon as possible after diagnosis.

Dr. Pereira said that the advice from the two UN organizations has been constantly evolving and that the island is still following old policy guidelines.

“The new thinking is that once a person has been diagnosed HIV positive the medication should start immediately be4cause the research has shown that that gives the person the best outcome.

“Right now here in Antigua and Barbuda, we adhere to the policy of the WHO which states that once a person CD4 counts hits 500 cells per cubic millimeter or less then we start the antiretroviral medication.

“We have stuck into that policy because we have found that it works for us,” she said, noting that she expects the policy to change in the coming months in keeping with the latest WHO advice.

But she acknowledged that implementing the new policy would be expensive and “it is always changing and it is not there cast in stone.

“I suspect strongly that in the next 18 months to two years that this policy will change,” she said, adding “remember this will take a lot of resources….but once the person takes the medication and they have a low viable load and they have a high CD4 count they can live a normal life”.

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A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

JOHN’S, Antigua, Oct 13, CMC – The Clinical Care Coordinator in the Antigua and Barbuda Health Sector, Dr Maria Pereira, says hundreds of HIV positive people here are not receiving treatment.

“Since the end of June, 2015, the number of persons who have tested positive for HIV in Antigua and Barbuda is 1,078 and of those, about 264 have died and 251 are in care treatment. So there are quite a number of persons who are HIV positive and who are not in care treatment,” she said.

Dr. Pereira said that she was recommending that everyone who is aware of his or her status to access treatment, aware that “it might be difficult to access because sometimes many of us know in society there is a lot of stigma, discrimination associated with the virus”.

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She said Antigua and Barbuda was lagging in its application of World Health Organization/Pan American Health organization (PAHO/WHO)) guidelines which call for among other measures that people with HIV to be given anti retroviral drugs as soon as possible after diagnosis.

Dr. Pereira said that the advice from the two UN organizations has been constantly evolving and that the island is still following old policy guidelines.

“The new thinking is that once a person has been diagnosed HIV positive the medication should start immediately be4cause the research has shown that that gives the person the best outcome.

“Right now here in Antigua and Barbuda, we adhere to the policy of the WHO which states that once a person CD4 counts hits 500 cells per cubic millimeter or less then we start the antiretroviral medication.

“We have stuck into that policy because we have found that it works for us,” she said, noting that she expects the policy to change in the coming months in keeping with the latest WHO advice.

But she acknowledged that implementing the new policy would be expensive and “it is always changing and it is not there cast in stone.

“I suspect strongly that in the next 18 months to two years that this policy will change,” she said, adding “remember this will take a lot of resources….but once the person takes the medication and they have a low viable load and they have a high CD4 count they can live a normal life”.