The COVID-19 pandemic has caused disruptions in tourism, education and certainly the wider economy. Unfortunately, vulnerable populations who need urgent and timely health services are also terribly inconvenienced. For those who are living with HIV/AIDS, the situation is a challenging one. News Editor, Dale McDougall spoke to the Doctor Rosmond Adams, the director of the Pan-Caribbean Partnership on HIV/AIDS about the pre-pandemic gains the region has made to fight this condition.
Doctor Rosmond Adams, Director, Pan-Caribbean Partnership on HIV/AIDS: “As we all know that across the Caribbean we’ve made progress in a number of initiatives against HIV and AIDS. When you look at the statistics comparing 2019 with 2010 over that ten year period the Caribbean has done tremendously well in reducing new HIV infections. Also AIDS related deaths in the Caribbean has decreased by almost half during that time period from 2010 to 2019. The Caribbean also is a place where we have seen a number of countries would have eliminated mother to child transmission of HIV and Syphilis and to date there are eight countries and territories across the Caribbean region that have been validated by the World Health Organization to have eliminated mother to child transmission of HIV and Syphilis. Also when we look at pediatric HIV in the Caribbean the Caribbean has done well in reducing pediatric HIV by over 40% so a number of initiatives have been done in the Caribbean in order to reduce new HIV infections and AIDS related deaths and to make the lives of those who are affected by and impacted by HIV a bit more easier and also improving the quality of services and health related issues for these people.”
But because of the pandemic, those who need the life-saving anti-retrovirals, for example, have been and are facing challenges in receiving their medicine.
Doctor Rosmond Adams, Director, Pan-Caribbean Partnership on HIV/AIDS: “In terms of how COVID19 is impacting on the delivery of services for HIV we’ve recognized across the region prevention services have been impacted, care and treatment services have been impacted and even the sustainability of the regional response is threatened by the COVID19 pandemic. For example as you know with HIV the traditional testing is done in a clinic environment where someone has to go into the clinic and within COVID19 with the shut downs, with the curfews and so forth in place clinic hours have been significantly reduced. So whereas a clinic may have functioned from 8AM to 4PM they may be now functioning from 8AM until noon. With social distancing measures being in place traditionally we’re accustomed to going into a clinic and it is packed there are 30-40 persons sitting in the waiting room waiting with COVID19 we know because we have to ensure social distancing we cannot allow this to happen and so you can allow only a certain number of persons that can fit comfortable in the room ensuring that social distancing is adhered to and so because of this you may have persons have to wait on the outside to access services with this happening they may get frustrated waiting on the outside they might be too hot, it might be raining and people may go away. And so with these happening services have significantly been impacted.”
In tomorrow’s news, we will have more from the extended discussion Doctor Adams had with our newsroom.