By NAN Staff Writer
News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Dec. 1, 2020: AIDS-related deaths as well as HIV infections are on the decline in the Caribbean, The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said on World AIDS Day, Dec. 1, 2020.
This as the organization said about 330,000 people in the Caribbean are living with HIV.
PAHO says annual deaths from AIDS-related illnesses declined by 37 per cent from 2010 through 2019 or from about 11,000 in 2010 to 6,900 in 2019 in Caribbean countries.
New yearly infections from the HIV virus also dropped by 29 percent or from about 18,000 in 2010 to 13,000 in 2019.
The decline in infections resulted from various preventive measures, including use of medications taken before and after contact with someone with HIV, which are known as PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) and PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis).
PAHO attributed the decline to an increase in testing and improvement in delivery of lifelong antiretroviral treatment.
PAHO said the decline in testing means that people with undiagnosed HIV are unaware of their situation and not getting lifesaving antiretroviral treatment, potentially exposing others to HIV transmission.
In another sign of long-term progress in the Caribbean, PAHO said the percentage of children born to mothers with HIV who are infected with the virus declined to 12 percent in 2019 from 22 percent in 2010.
The percentage of people with HIV who receive antiretroviral treatment also rose to 63 percent in 2019 in the Caribbean, compared to 22 percent in 2010.
The percentage of women with HIV who are getting lifelong antiretroviral treatment, which decreases the risk of their children being infected, rose to 86 percent in 2019 in the Caribbean, compared to 42 percent in 2010, PAHO said.
It also said that the percentage of children with HIV who are receiving antiretroviral treatment rose from 42 percent in 2017 in the Caribbean to 44 percent in 2019.
COVID-19 AND HIV TESTING
But PAHO said that it has evidence that, since the pandemic struck, the number of people being tested for HIV in both the Caribbean and Latin America has dropped.
In the first six months of 2020, PAHO said there were about 4,000 fewer diagnoses of HIV in eight Caribbean and Latin American nations – Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Peru and St. Lucia – than there were in the first six months of 2019.