The Ministry of Health has assured the public that Barbados??? progress in its national HIV prevention and control campaign has minimised the likelihood of resistant strains of HIV occurring here.

Actions taken include the identification of HIV cases; linking those cases to care; and providing HIV-specific drugs.

Senior Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Anton Best, was responding today to the discovery of a new HIV strain in Cuba, which is causing patients to progress to full-blown AIDS within three years of becoming infected with HIV, as opposed to up to 10 years with other strains.

Dr. Best explained that the new strain, known as CRF19, was more lethal than other strains. He said it had also been observed in Africa but in too small numbers to be fully researched.

Experts had indicated, he said, that based on past experience in Africa, the appearance of the strain in Cuba was likely to remain an isolated incident.

The Ministry of Health, meanwhile, has begun discussions with the Pan American Health Organisatin (PAHO) regarding the new discovery and is conducting a review of the available literature.

The Ministry continues to encourage all Barbadians to practice safe sex and to continue to follow public health guidance with respect to the prevention and control of HIV.

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