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Minnis: No changes to Bahamas’HIV/AIDS program

Minister of Health Dr. Hubert Minnis has confirmed that there will be no changes to the country’s HIV/AIDS program despite the departure of the Clinton Foundation, which worked along with the National AIDS Program, headed by its Director Dr. Perry Gomez.

Minnis said the foundation left the necessary infrastructure in place for The Bahamas to carry on its free HIV/AIDS clinic with no interruption to the flow of antiretroviral drugs into the country.

“What they have done for us is negotiated excellent prices for our HIV medication,”said Minnis.

“Although the Clinton Foundation has moved, they will continue to come in from time to do some oversight.”

He insisted that those individuals infected with HIV/AIDS in The Bahamas have not been compromised by the foundation’s departure. He also said government will change nothing with regard to its policies on HIV/AIDS.

“(Government is)not going to do anything different because of it. Individuals will come in and be trained to run it efficiently,”said Minnis.

He said Gomez assured him that the National AIDS Program, the free clinic and the pharmacy where the antiretroviral drugs are disbursed, will be able to carry on effectively and efficiently without the extra bodies of the Clinton Foundation workers, who did much more than simply negotiate drugs.

Gomez toldThe Nassau Guardianon Monday that some of the foundation’s most recent work was with the Haitian community.

“For the last nine months they were working with the Haitian community and did a wonderful job,”he said.

This paper also understands that the workers picked up the slack at the HIV/AIDS center when necessary and assisted in the development of abstinence and sexual protection campaigns.

According to Gomez, much of the foundation’s former, Bahamas-based staff will now focus their attention on Africa.

The Clinton Foundation,

according to its website, was established in 2002 and developed the Clinton Health Access Initiative(CHAI), under which The Bahamas was a beneficiary, to”turn the tide”of the HIV/AIDS pandemic in developing countries.

The Caribbean still has the highest prevalence of HIV/AIDS outside Sub-Saharan Africa.

Since the The Bahamas secured markedly reduced prices for drugs, treatment became universal for those who needed it.

Since the very first cases, the death rate from HIV has been reduced by 70 percent, Gomez said recently.

The Bahamas went from 300 deaths from AIDS every year to around 70 for the last two years.

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