Grenada shares in progress made in battle against HIV and AIDS

Anne Peters

Grenada shares in the progress made in the battle against HIV and AIDS.

That's what Health Minister Anne Peters told a recent high-level meeting on HIV and AIDS at UN headquarters.

But she was quick to add that a comprehensive response to HIV and AIDS is still a challenge, due mainly to taboo and stigmatization, social and religious norms, limited trained human and financial resources and the need for more public education.

Minister Peters said there is much more the international community can and need to undertake in order to reach higher levels of accomplishment. She noted that for over a decade now, the Grenada National Infectious Disease Control Unit has been mandated to respond to the HIV‐AIDS challenge, with responsibility for the leadership which has brought results such as over 80 percent of women participating in ante‐natal clinics accept testing at their visit, in response to protocols introduced in 2007. 

Peters: We have begun to see vast improvements in the prevention of mother to child transmission (PMTCT), and in 2010, Grenada achieved the first of the three targeted zeros: no child born to an HIV-infected women has tested positive. We are convinced that this is the result of a strategic approach of a rights-based approach and the integration of prevention into primary health care; we are convinced that this model be used again for achieving the other two zeros. Prophylactic therapy is given to babies within 72 hours of birth and these babies receive milk formula support for the first six months of life. We have seen an increase in the numbers of young persons who voluntarily test and this has come as a result of investments in public awareness, the growing confidence of young persons in services provided and the reduction of stigmatization.

NAR: According to Health Minister Anne Peters, in the area of treatment and care, the use of highly active antiretroviral medication, (HAART), since 2003, has made it possible to put all patients known to the public health system on treatment and to significantly increase the numbers having access from services.

Home visits and medication pickups as well as referrals to other specialists are making the difference to the quality of life for People Living with HIV.

Peters: Still, Grenada's achievements are more, including rapid test training, the completion of the Knowledge, Attitude, Behavior and Practice Survey, local and regional training for staff and medical personnel, and increasing inter-sectoral participation in annual World AIDS Day activities. All these results emanate from our core conviction – that the human rights of all Grenadians, with no distinction whatsoever, must be honored, in health as in all constitutionally mandated rights; this is fundamental. The National AIDS Council with wide multi-sectoral representation. The impact of HIV and AIDS strikes at the very heart of the rural sector, where poverty is wide-spread among the youthful population between the ages of 15-29. This results in compounding the overall social and economic vulnerability of our small island. This calls for an even stronger multisectoral approach similar to what we have undertaken, where health is integrated into all other sectors. We view and respond to health as a macroeconomic pillar of development. We know now, that the HIV AIDS epidemic can be defeated and having scored the first zero, that is (I repeat), zero mother to child transmission, we in Grenada have only two zeros to score!.

NAR: Ms. Peters said that Grenada welcomed the Political Declaration from the high-level meeting, with its integrated approach of leadership, commitment, integration, financing and dogged determination and application for sustained progress.

This is Donn Bobb reporting.

Duration: 3’54″

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