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Ministry of Health Initiates Stocktaking Over the Spread of HIV/AIDS

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Contact: John Emmanuel

Tuesday, December 03, 2002 - As St. Lucia approaches 17 years since the fist diagnosed case of HIV/AIDS, Health officials here have begun a stocktaking exercise. That disclosure from Health and Human Services Minister Honourable Damian Greaves as the island joined the rest of the international community on the weekend in observing World AIDS Day on December 1.

In an address marking the occasion, Minister Greaves said that cognisant of the fact that HIV/AIDS bears the potential to adversely affect the nation’s overall health status and development prospects, his Ministry was aiming at a more focused and expanded response. “This has resulted in the strengthening of the national HIV/AIDS Programme Secretariat, networking with key players like the AIDS Action Foundation, international pharmaceutical companies, the Government of France, the Clinton Foundation and the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) in the USA,” said Minister Greaves.

He pointed out that with assistance from CAREC, St. Lucia conducted a situation and response analysis. The final draft has recently been completed and submitted. “We are now ready to move to the next phase of a strategic plan formulation, a process that will involve all stakeholders and partners and will take place over the next two months.” An effective response to HIV/AIDS he notes, demands the understanding of the linkages between HIV/AIDS and international human rights law. The Ministry of Health, Human Services and Family Affairs in collaboration with the AIDS Action Foundation and other non-governmental organizations are working at developing a programme of activities for AIDS Awareness Month to be held annually in November.

As of June 2002, 363 cases of HIV infection had been reported locally, of these 196 have advanced to AIDS and 180 have died. Children less than 15 years represented 10% of reported cases of HIV and adults aged 15-49 years accounted for 76%. 10% of all reported cases were among the youth aged 15-24 years.


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