National Aids Commission reveals global/regional statistics on HIV
Saturday, February 4th, 2017
The National Aids Commission (NAC) in Belize hosted a two-day workshop on how to train journalists/media personnel in reporting topics regarding HIV (human immunodeficiency disorder)/TB (tuberculosis)/AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). The San Pedro Sun sharing the information gathered during the workshop facilitated by Martha Carrillo (Founder of MC Consultancy) in a series of articles over the next two weeks. In the first series, out on Friday, January 27th, Volume 27 Issue #4, the basics of HIV/TB/AIDS, how it is transmitted, the various stages of HIV, and treatment options for HIV were explained. In this second series, The San Pedro Sun will explore the global and regionally statistics on HIV, and introduce Belize’s leading HIV advocate, Erika Castellanos.
Global and Regional Statistics on HIV
In regards to gender, males remain the highest affected group. Men represent 65.2% of all cases at a ratio of 1.9 to 1 when compared to females for TB and TB/HIV co-infections. United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) considers gay men and other men who have sex with men, sex workers and their clients, transgender people, people who inject drugs and prisoners and other incarcerated people as the main key population groups. These populations often suffer from punitive laws or stigmatizing policies, and they are among the most likely to be exposed to HIV. Their engagement is critical to a successful HIV response everywhere.
In 2015, 36.7 million people were estimated to be living with HIV globally, 2.1 million became newly infected, and 1.1 million died of AIDS. At the end of 2015, US$ 19 billion was invested in the AIDS response in low- and middle-income countries (not including the countries that have recently transitioned into high-income categories). Recent updated UNAIDS estimates indicate that US$ 26.2 billion will be required for the AIDS response in 2020, with US$ 23.9 billion required in 2030.
According to 2015 statistics, the Ministry of Health in Belize (MOH) conducted a total of 31,346 HIV tests, where 239 tested positive. 20,105 females and 11,124 males were tested, showing more than double the women getting tested over men.
In 2015, the HIV Summary Cohort reported that 239 were newly diagnosed with HIV, 239 were enrolled in care, 136 received CD4 counts, 69 were on antiretroviral treatment, 23 were deceased, and 104 were alive and on the antiretroviral treatment (ART). The estimated TB prevalence is 51 per 100,000 while the incidence is 40 per 100,000.
Available data consistently reveals that the Belize, Cayo and Stann Creek districts have high cases of TB and HIV. TB incidence is estimated at 40 persons per 100,000 population or around 120 cases per year. The overall HIV related death rate is 2.6/10,000 population, with twice the number of men dying. Poverty, HIV/AIDS, chronic non-communicable diseases and poor treatment outcomes are considered key drivers of TB in Belize.
Erika Castellanos, giving a voice to the defenseless
The highlight of the workshop was a presentation given by guest speaker, Erika Castellanos. Castellanos, who is a transgender woman living with HIV, was more than delighted to share her inspiring story to the group. “I was exposed to HIV in 1995—the year HIV hit hard. There were funerals every week, and many of my close friends had died. Before, you would hear a lot of misconceptions about persons living with HIV, but we have come a long way in regards to HIV education. I think the more we know about HIV, the less stigma and discrimination there will be. Many people who have HIV are generally afraid to reveal their status to their family or partner. We have a social responsibility to impart knowledge and that will decrease the stigma associated with HIV,” said Castellanos.
During her motivational speech, Castellanos mentioned that being HIV positive transformed her former lifestyle as a sex worker and drug abuser. “After knowing I had HIV, I became a better a person, and it has given me the opportunity to help other people. I don’t know if I would be alive if I didn’t have HIV or where I would be. After I accepted that I had HIV, I became empowered. I now travel around the globe to represent Belize to seek assistance for other people like me living with HIV,” she said.
In the third series, stigma, discrimination, and human rights pertaining to persons living with HIV will be highlighted. If you need more information regarding HIV, available treatment, questions, or concerns, you may contact the National AIDS Commission by calling 223-7592 or email [email protected]
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