AIDS/HIV testing and referrals fall victim to pandemic in 2020-21, says Secretariat official

Ahead of World AIDS Day 2021, which is observed on December 1 annually, the AIDS Secretariat says the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the testing regime for HIV/AIDS in Antigua and Barbuda.

Oswald Hannis, an HIV Counselor and Educator at the Secretariat, says that, from 2020 to this year, there has been a significant reduction in testing and arriving at new diagnoses.  This has affected the ability of the office to make recommendations to positive persons for treatment and management.

He says that the restrictions played a major role in this.

Hannis says, though, that those impacted by HIV/AIDS have been encouraged to get vaccinated since they have an underlying medical condition.

Meanwhile, Hannis says that fewer than 1,000 people in Antigua and Barbuda are living with HIV since it was discovered here back in the 1980s.

He says that women outnumber the men, though not by much, in terms of the infection rate.

Hannis says the actual number of persons who have been diagnosed over this same corresponding period is 1,355.

He says 376 persons — 197 males and 175 females — are currently accessing antiretroviral treatment and clinical management for the disease.

Hannis says there is a light difference in the uptake of treatment in males when compared to females.

The HIV Counselor and Educator says that the total death count from HIV/AIDS is just under 450.