PAHO urges test­ing for HIV and AIDS

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

The Pan Amer­i­can Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion/World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion (PAHO/WHO) is call­ing on peo­ple to get tested as an im­por­tant step to­wards halt­ing the spread of HIV and end­ing AIDS. ‘Know your sta­tus’ is the cam­paign slo­gan for this year’s World AIDS Day, cel­e­brated De­cem­ber 1.

HIV test­ing pro­vides peo­ple with a unique op­por­tu­nity to dis­cover their HIV sta­tus and en­ables those di­ag­nosed with HIV to rapidly ini­ti­ate life­sav­ing treat­ment. It also serves as a gate­way for those at higher risk of ac­quir­ing the virus to ac­cess the rec­om­mended pack­age of pre­ven­tion ser­vices in or­der to re­main neg­a­tive.

Over 2.1 mil­lion peo­ple live with HIV in Latin Amer­ica and the Caribbean, 1.6 mil­lion of whom know their sta­tus. Knowl­edge of HIV sta­tus, com­bined with in­creased ac­cess to an­tiretro­vi­ral treat­ment in the re­gion has led to a 12% drop in AIDS-re­lated deaths in Latin Amer­ica and a 23% drop in the Caribbean from 2010 to 2017.

De­spite this progress, in Latin Amer­ica the rate of new HIV in­fec­tions re­mains un­changed at around 100,000 per year—a re­duc­tion of just 1% since 2010.

Progress in the Caribbean has been much faster, with an 18% re­duc­tion in new in­fec­tions since 2010.

Even so, through­out the re­gion, key pop­u­la­tion groups most at risk of con­tract­ing HIV con­tinue to miss out on vi­tal pre­ven­tion and fol­low-up ser­vices.

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