New HIV strain unlikely in B’dos
Barbadians are being assured that the new HIV strain discovered in Cuba is unlikely to reach Barbados.
The Ministry of Health said in a statement this evening that Barbados’ progress in its national HIV prevention and control campaign has minimized the likelihood of resistant strains of HIV occurring here.
It said actions taken include the identification of HIV cases, linking those cases to care, and providing HIV-specific drugs.
Senior Medical Officer of Health Dr Anton Best provided that information as he responded to the queries about the new strain which is causing patients to progress to full-blown AIDS within three years of becoming infected with HIV.
Other strains of the virus take 10 years to fully develop into the disease.
Dr Best explained that the new strain in Cuba, known as CRF19, was more lethal than other strains.
He said it had also been observed in Africa but in too few numbers to be fully researched. Experts had indicated, he said, that based on past experience in Africa, the appearance of the strain in Cuba was likely to remain an isolated incident.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health has started discussions with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) regarding the new discovery and is conducting a review of the available literature.
The ministry has encouraged all Barbadians to practise safe sex and to continue to follow public health guidance with respect to the prevention and control of HIV.