St. Vincent and Grenadines To Launch HIV/AIDS Treatment, Prevention Measures With $7M in World Bank Funds
Health officials from Saint Vincent and the Grenadines on Tuesday announced that the country plans to increase government-sponsored HIV/AIDS treatment, education and prevention measures with $7 million in funding from the World Bank, the Associated Press reports. The country is expected to receive the funding in November and use the money to improve government initiatives, including a program to provide antiretroviral drugs at no cost to HIV/AIDS patients, according to Health Secretary Verlene Saunders, the Associated Press reports. Since 1984, the country has recorded 745 HIV cases, and at least 391 people have died of AIDS-related causes. There has been an increase in the number of newly reported HIV cases each year since 1999 -- with the exception of 2001, which saw a slight decrease. In addition, the government acknowledges that the actual number of new HIV cases could be much higher than the number reported. However, only 40 HIV-positive people in the country currently receive antiretroviral treatment at no cost under the government program, according to health ministry data. Country officials have reported that they are attempting to individually contact people who are registered as HIV-positive but are having difficulty determining where they live or if they are still alive, the Associated Press reports. According to Roger Duncan, a health ministry official, the government recently launched a campaign in local newspapers and on the Internet that promotes safer sex practices and monogamy among young people. He said that the campaign also focuses on "dispelling stigmas associated with" HIV/AIDS, according to the Associated Press. "There is still a myth that you can catch the disease from touching a person who is infected," Duncan said, adding, "So we have to go to work on helping to separate the facts from the fiction" (Prescott, Associated Press, 8/31).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.