Men Urged To Take HIV Seriously

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Health Minister, Donville Inniss, has called for responsible sexual behaviour to be seen as an individual responsibility, particularly our nation’s males.????

In his address at the HIV/AIDS annual Volunteers’ awards ceremony, held at the Accra Beach Hotel and Resort last Saturday evening, he noted that, as in previous years, according to the Barbados HIV/AIDS Surveillance Report 2008, the trend of more men than women being diagnosed with HIV, continued.????

"Preliminary figures for 2009 show that 111 persons were diagnosed with HIV; the median age at the time of diagnosis was 36.7 years and 34 deaths occurred amongst people living with HIV in Barbados during 2009, with the number of male deaths being higher than the number of female deaths," he revealed.

Data also shows that, men are less likely to be tested for HIV and are diagnosed?? at later stages.?? Between 1984 and 2008, 1,436 deaths were recorded as a result of an HIV related illness.?? Seventy-three per cent of these deaths occurred in men who generally had poorer health seeking behaviours than women.??

"Special programmes targeting men and their sexual and reproductive health needs, including HIV testing, need to be strengthened, so that more men are tested for HIV, thereby allowing earlier entry into HIV care services.?? The expansion of HIV testing services is, therefore, a priority," Minister Inniss stated.

In an effort to ensure that more persons are tested for the virus, Minister Inniss outlined that his Ministry had embarked on a pilot phase of the Provider Initiated Testing and Counselling (PITC) programme at the St. Philip Polyclinic and at the St. John Outpatients Clinic.?? Using the routine testing approach of PITC, testing is recommended by the healthcare provider to persons attending healthcare facilities as a standard component of medical care.?? The onus will be on the patient to refuse or "opt-out" of a particular test.??

"According to initial reports, this service has been well received and there has been a significant increase in HIV tests being done," Minister Inniss reported.??

??He pledged that the Ministry of Health would continue to make relevant and timely interventions wherever, and however, it could, both on the prevention and curative sides, but cautioned persons to take HIV seriously.

??"It is truly amazing that in a supposedly highly educated society like ours, so many men and women continue to play fast and loose with their health and that of those that they are supposed to care for," Mr. Inniss emphasised.??

The Health Minister was on hand to present the Minister’s award to HIV volunteers who assisted Government in its mission to protect citizens from HIV’s potential impact.?? Taking the Minister of Health’s HIV/AIDS Volunteer Award 2010 was Hotline Volunteer of the Year, Sonia Belle, who has given continuous service to the Hotline since 1998.??lbayley@barbados.gov.bb

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