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Dec 1, 2016

World AIDS Day: New Cases Down as More Get Tested

The number of new cases of persons affected with HIV annually has been on a steady downward trend according to the National Aids Commission. Today, that good news was celebrated with more awareness activities to commemorate World AIDS Day. Around the country, persons were encouraged to get tested and know their status.  News Five’s Duane Moody was at the Battlefield Park in Belize City and has this report.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

December first is recognized annually as World AIDS Day and for 2016 it is being celebrated globally under the theme, “Hands Up for HIV Prevention.” As part of this UN-AIDS initiative, persons are being given a space to express their views about what they think needs to be done to strengthen HIV prevention efforts. Today at the Battlefield Park in downtown Belize City, residents of all ages came out to get tested and know their status. It was organized by the National AIDS Commission in collaboration with its partner agencies.

 

Arthur Usher

Arthur Usher, Communication and Programs Officer, National Aids Commission

“It’s a simple campaign that we are doing and it is basically saying put your hands up, write a message in your hand and post it on your Facebook or do a video with it. The message is directed to what you think needs to be done to affect prevention of HIV in Belize. We are also doing that along with the Ministry of Health doing the testing. Every year the Ministry of Health does do testing in all the areas and all facilities and the NAC also assists and aids in any way that we can. So partnering with different health agencies is always a plus because people might come for HIV testing, but they might do a diabetes check or a health check in general.”

 

Always of concern, however, is the number of new cases annually. While the statistics show a decrease, the UN-AIDS strategy is that by 2020, the aim is to have zero new cases. According to Communications Officer Arthur Usher, vulnerable populations remain their focus.

 

Arthur Usher

“UN reference to the UN-AIDS 9090 Strategy, our aim is by 2020 we have ninety percent of those living with HIV diagnosed; ninety percent of those diagnosed on anti-retroviral; ninety percent of those on anti-retroviral with a viral suppression. So that’s our aim and again in terms of testing that does help us with these kinds of aims and these general global initiatives that we are doing.”

 

There is still that stigma with getting tested…but Usher says that that culture is changing and more men are seeing the need for general health care. It was no exception for Bruce Flowers who says he gets tested two times a year.

 

Bruce Flowers

Bruce Flowers, Resident

“Well I think it is important for everybody to know their HIV status and I just get mine every six months to check up on myself.”

 

Duane Moody

“Would you advise others—your friends, your peers—to come and get tested as well?”

Bruce Flowers

“Yes I do because yo have to know weh di go on with yoself.”

 

As a youth, the acting president of the Belize National Youth Council, Dominique Noralez encouraged her peers to get tested.

 

Dominique Noralez

Dominique Noralez, Acting President, National Youth Council

“It’s a very healthy practice. It is something that you should do at least once, twice a year depending on your own practices. It is something that young people should be engaged in because of the high rate of HIV and the way the statistics look. We should…it is advised and I advise everybody to come out and take their test.”

 

Duane Moody for News Five.

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