There is no data to support the claim that HIV infection among men in Barbados is increasing.
This is according to Dr. Anton Best, Senior Medical Officer of Health (Communicable Diseases), attached to the Ministry of Health’s HIV/AIDS Programme, in response to a recent report carried in a section of the Press.
The news report, which cited statistics from the Barbados Global AIDS Response Progress Report 2012, erroneously stated that "…a new report has pointed to a worrying increase in the contraction rate among men."
The findings of the Progress Report actually stated that "among individuals that were newly diagnosed with HIV, men have consistently outnumbered women" – with the exception of the period 2005 to 2009, when similar numbers of men and women were diagnosed with HIV -?? not that there was an increase in HIV infections in men.
"The most recent HIV research data revealed that the incidence of HIV (the rate of new cases) in Barbados is declining as evidenced by a reduction in the number of new cases being detected. When the trends in new HIV cases are analysed according to sex, there is a preponderance of men being newly diagnosed with HIV. The most recent HIV surveillance data show that in 2010, 135 people were newly diagnosed with HIV in Barbados. The overall downward trend in the number of HIV cases being diagnosed annually is postulated to be reflective of declining HIV transmission rates across the country," Dr. Best explained.
He added that researchers in the Ministry of Health had gone through a process of "rigorous analysis" of the latest data. These analyses were done in collaboration with researchers from the Chronic Disease Research Centre of the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus and from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, he pointed out.
Additionally, Dr. Best said a recent review of the Barbados Health Sector Response to HIV and STIs (sexually transmitted infections) that was conducted by the Pan American Health Organisation, concluded that Barbados had achieved the Millennium Development Goal of reversal of the HIV epidemic based on the observation that the rate of new HIV cases was declining.