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Apr 25, 2013

HIV conference shows that drug users have higher rate of infection

Stigma and discrimination against persons affected by HIV/AIDS are high on the agenda of the National AIDS Commission. But there are other pressing problems facing persons vulnerable to the virus. At a national three-day conference, which opened this morning, disconcerting information was revealed on who are the most affected in the population. News Five’s Jose Sanchez reports.

 

Jose Sanchez, Reporting

The National AIDS Commission of Belize is hosting the first National HIV prevention summit. The Executive Director of the National AIDS Commission says that new findings and relevant statistics will be addressed over the next three days.

 

Dr. Martin Cuellar, Executive Director, National Aids Commission

Martin Cuellar

“We are receiving new information with reports from the latest statistical studies that have been done in Belize that provide us with information to guide our prevention work. We are looking at human rights, we are looking at HIV in correlation with drug use; we are looking at the latest information on youth. We are also looking at this afternoon, a special presentation by psychologist on behavior change to allow us to better understand the psychological processes that go through people’s minds that lead them to vulnerable or risky behavior.”

 

Dr. Jean Perriott’s presentation was a collaboration with researchers from UB, the National Drug Abuse Control Council and the Ministry of Health. It showed a higher infection rate amongst drug users, particularly females.

 

Dr. Jean Perriott, researcher

“The study looked at the relationship between drug use and HIV/AIDS. What we found was the prevalence was eleven point nine percent which is above the national average and when we looked at sex, twenty-five percent of female in the sample tested positive while seven percent of the males tested positive. That is still above the national average. So it is cause for concern.”

 

Jose Sanchez

“How do you use these statistics to help to prevent control?”

 

Jean Perriott

Dr. Jean Perriott

“The statistics will be used by NDAAC and the National Aids Commission in which this summit is being held to create strategies and to target the sub-groups that are in much more need of prevention strategies. In an effort to of course lower; the aim is to get zero.”

 

Martin Cuellar

“Tomorrow we address what are some of the tried and proven successful interventions used around the region. And so we have a couple of our regional experts who will be presenting for us to learn and tell us how we can adapt some of those methodologies here in Belize. And on day three, we discuss and see consensus on new standards of all areas of prevention as well as discuss how we will coordinate our future efforts to make sure they are more efficient; that we get more bang for the buck. And we think that all of that should lead us with a better opportunity to achieve our overall goal of reducing the number or percent of new infections of HIV.”

 

Reporting for News Five, Jose Sanchez.

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2 Responses for “HIV conference shows that drug users have higher rate of infection”

  1. Storm says:

    The Jewel has one of the highest AIDS/HIV rates in the western hemisphere, and worst of all are the innocent babies born infected.

    There should be some stigma attached to those who are infected, so they will not spread the disease and destroy more lives. We need education, and we need readily available testing. And we need access to effective treatment like they have in the US.

  2. just the truth says:

    babies are being born with HIV because the antivirals are not given to all pregnant mothers. antivirals can only be obtained from the public clinics, private pharmacies are restricted from importing HIV medication, this is against the human rights of the person with HIV who wants to be able to choose his or her own health care provider,

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