Darville: End to AIDS epidemic is in sight

As officials reported a 53 percent drop in HIV diagnoses in The Bahamas between 2010 and 2019, Minister of Health and Wellness Dr. Michael Darville declared today that an end to the HIV/AIDS epidemic is in sight.

“Ninety-five percent of persons in The Bahamas living with HIV now know their HIV status,” the minister said during a press conference at the Ministry of Health and Wellness.

“Seventy-three percent of persons to whom their status is known is on treatment and 81 percent of those on treatment are virally suppressed, the gold standard for HIV care.

“The Bahamas has reached the moment where we are able to say that tremendous progress is being made and the end of the AIDS epidemic is in sight.”

Dr. Darville said The Bahamas’s goal is to end AIDs by 2030.

Director of the National HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Programme ,Dr. Nikkiah Forbes said at the end of 2021, there were approximately 4,447 people living with HIV in The Bahamas.

“That means the HIV prevalence is estimated at 1.3 percent of the population,” she said.

“The number of newly reported HIV diagnoses decreased by 53 percent in the years between 2010 and 2019.”

She said AIDS deaths decreased by 40 percent between 2010 and 2019.

“So we are seeing progress,” she added.

Addressing the government’s goals, she said by 2030, the ministry hopes to see 95 percent of people living with HIV to know their status through HIV testing

Of those persons who know their status, she said, 95 percent of them should be placed on effective antiretroviral medication.

Dr. Forbes said by their estimates, officials have diagnosed 94 percent of people living with HIV in 2021.

“Seventy-three percent were on treatment,” she continued. “That is a very high number, the highest number we’ve seen in our programing.

“Of those persons who are on treatment, 81 percent have achieved viral suppression and that is also increasing.”

The Bahamas has also seen significant progress in eliminating mother to child transmission.

“There were no babies born with HIV in The Bahamas in the years 2010, 2015, 2019, 2020 and 2021,” Dr. Forbes said.

“…We rarely see a baby born with HIV.”

Dr. Darville added, “We will end AIDS and see and AIDS-free generation in our lifetime.”

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Krystel Brown

Krystel covers breaking news for The Nassau Guardian. Krystel also manages The Guardian’s social media pages. She joined The Nassau Guardian in 2007 as a staff reporter, covering national news. She was promoted to online editor in May 2017. Education: Benedict College, BA in Mass Communications

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