No more AIDS possible

Panellists talking HIV – Minister of Health Donville Inniss, Minister of Family, Stephen Lashley, HIV Researcher Professor Clive Landis and Parliamentary HIV Champion Mia Mottley.

A local researcher on HIV/AIDS said today that no new persons in Barbados should develop AIDS.

Speaking at the opening of a two-day HIV Research Symposium at the Savannah Hotel, Chairman of the Research Committee of the National HIV/AIDS Commission, Professor Clive Landis, said treatment was now available which could prevent people developing AIDS.

“We already knew that good anti-retroviral therapy has lifted the death sentence. And I personally do not like to speak about AIDS. I cringe when that word passes my mouth,” said Landis.

“Nobody,” he added, “should have AIDS, because we can treat people to have HIV and they would never get AIDS.”

He said the ART cuts down on the risk to transmit the virus, if a person was being well treated.

“In Barbados, we know that mother-to-child transmission has been eliminated for the past four years; and that is due to these highly effective drugs,” the researcher noted.

However, the professor said the challenge was, if the same quality of care was administered to persons with HIV,

“We can also, I heard, eliminate the risk of sexual transmission.”

He said it was this public health benefit that had been recognised, which has led to another policy change.

“Very often what happens in the US becomes adopted elsewhere; and that is we are now moving more and more away from, only treating people once they are sick,” Landis observed.

However, he said health care providers were now looking to treat people as soon as they tested positive, because, not only would that person be helped to stave off any chances of AIDS, they would also be prevented from transmitting the virus sexually.

But the professor is insisting that all stakeholders get involved in tackling the epidemic, including the judiciary and legislators by introducing anti-stigma and discrimination laws. (EJ)††

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