Last year, approximately one hundred persons died from HIV/AIDS in Belize while approximately two hundred persons contracted the infection. The National AIDS Commission is seeking ways to prevent the disease from spreading further. That is why the Special Envoy for Women and Children, Gilead Science and the National AIDS Commission met with stakeholders to sensitize them to Pre-exposure prophylaxis or Prep, which looks at the prevention of HIV/AIDS. Love News spoke with Laura Tucker-Longsworth, Chairperson of the National Aids Commission who said that truvada is the Prep Program pill used to prevent HIV/AIDS.
Laura Tucker-Longsworth – Chairperson, National Aids Commission: We have to look at lifestyle changes and how we share that information and how the nation responds to all the issues that we have to address because it’s not only an “oh it’s only for promiscuous people” or “oh it will allow people to have more sex”. The group that’s highly affected are the young people, twenty to forty four, productive years, child bearing years, everything. So it’s a much bigger picture but just today we are starting that process of looking at this particular Prep Education how we go about utilizing science to really add to our response as a nation.
Love News also spoke with Elizabeth Murray, Senior Director for Central America and the Caribbean at Gilead Science who shared her sentiments about the meeting.
Elizabeth Murray – Senior Director for Central America and the Caribbean at Gilead Science: Today’s workshop is focused on exactly that; bringing awareness and education. What is Prep? Where does it fit into a comprehensive HIV program like the one that Belize has? What is its role as a component of a comprehensive prevention program and how can we at Gilead help Belize and the National AIDS Commission and all of the organizations involved in the HIV response be better prepared to implement it as best possible. The second part of today’s presentation is Implementation Science; we can have all of the best intentions, we can have all of the best programming, best treatments but if the implementation is not done the best way it can, then it’s hard to understand what impact if at all the program had and how best to monitor where we need to strengthen and where we can limit some of the resources and place them in other areas where those resources are needed.
Murray said that Prep has already been implemented in other Caribbean countries such as the Bahamas and Jamaica.