Saint Lucia witness decline in HIV cases, data released

HIV cases in the nation of Saint Lucia for the year 2023 saw a decrease in the number of cases reported as compared to the previous data.

HIV in Saint Lucia. Image Credit: Facebook, Hon. Dr. Terrance Drew
HIV in Saint Lucia. Image Credit: Facebook, Hon. Dr. Terrance Drew

Saint Lucia: The report of the HIV cases in the nation of Saint Lucia for the year 2023 saw a decrease in the number of cases reported as compared to the previous data.

As per the reports disclosed by the Chief Medical Officer, Dr Sharon Belmar-George, less than a thousand people in Saint Lucia are living with HIV.

The record shows that currently, about 992 individuals are suffering from HIV on the island nation. It must be noted that as per the survey, the official population of Saint Lucia is around 180 thousand. That leaves us with the ratio of one HIV case every 182 people.

The more cases in the nation recorded are of men, that is, around 57 per cent of the total number of cases. The number of cases involving male patients decreased as there were 65 per cent of cases of men suffering from HIV recorded in 2022.

As per the statement of the Chief Medical Officer, in the year 2023, 26 new HIV cases were diagnosed in the nation of Saint Lucia. The figure shows the decrease in the cases as compared to 2022, with a difference of nearly 32 per cent.

It was also recorded that in the year 2023, 15 people died due to HIV in Saint Lucia.

Dr Gail Gajadhar, Senior Medical Officer, mentioned that in 2023, which is the early phase of the 21st century, there must be no deaths seen anywhere in the world due to HIV.

It is mentioned by medical experts that the recorded deaths from HIV-related illnesses happen due to late-stage diagnosis of the people who are suffering. The reason behind the late diagnosis is that people who suffer from HIV do not want to accept that they have HIV.

The island nation of Saint Lucia has seen a change in the medical facilities with time as the government has taken serious steps towards the betterment of the sector.

Gajadhar mentioned how Saint Lucia has changed with time from not having any medication to manage HIV, to getting HIV treatments like anti-retroviral therapy that is not only available but also free of cost for the patients.

Talking about the entire region of the Caribbean, it is the second most affected place in the world after only the region of Sub-Saharan Africa.

It is shown in the prior surveys that around one per cent of people in the Caribbean are suffering from HIV. In the island nation of Bahamas, the rate of HIV was recorded as the highest, at more than three per cent.

As per the records of the recent few years, the cases of HIV recorded in the Caribbean are likely two per cent in Bahamas and Belize, 1.8 per cent in Jamaica and Haiti, 1.5 per cent in Trinidad and Tobago, and one per cent in Guyana and Suriname.

The rates of HIV are less than one per cent in the nations of Barbados and Dominica, where the island nation of Cuba is recorded with the lowest rate of HIV.

As per the reports of the WHO, HIV is one of the major issues seen the public health around the world. HIV has claimed nearly 40 million deaths in the world that are recorded officially.

In the data of 2022, there were around 39 million cases recorded of HIV, and the Caribbean had a huge amount of cases only after the most cases recorded in Africa, which was around 25 million cases.

The individuals who suffer from HIV notice the symptoms of fever, headache, sore throat and rash-like issues.

The situation weakens the immune system of the patient and leads to problems like swollen lymph nodes, weight loss, fever, diarrhoea, and cough. The situation can be elevated to cancer if the patient doesn’t get treated in time.

As per medical experts, HIV can be caused from person to person with the exchange of different body fluids of people already suffering from HIV like blood, breast milk, semen and vaginal secretions.”

“HIV can also be caused during pregnancy and delivery of the newborn. HIV cannot caused by daily normal contact like hugging, handshake, kissing or sharing food or water.” They mentioned.

The Ministry of Health of Saint Lucia also released their report of recorded cases in which they shared similar data on HIV.

The report of the health ministry also shared data on other diseases in the nation, like COVID-19, cancer, dengue, malaria, Leprosy, etc., with the other medical conditions caused by accidents and crimes in 2023.

People of the nation also shared their opinions about the cases in the country.

One individual said, “In Saint Lucia every body fop everybody. Small island. Things spread fast among small populations. And that’s the 15 they know of. Once young populations die like they did in Africa at some point, they better pay closer attention to this. Carnival good time, everybody sleeping with everyone else. When one have it, it passing to so many.”

“Some also infect deliberately too, they know they have it, yet they sleeping around. If they try it in the big countries, jail time for them. It’s easy to sequence the virus genetically to know if someone deliberately infects another. They have the technology and jail time.” He added.

One individual on the possible cases in the nation said, “Multiply that number by 100. So it suggests that almost 10000 people are undiagnosed on the island out of a population of just 180000. It means that almost 6% of the population may be affected by this. Shocking.”

The government and medical experts are working to bring a difference in the number of cases in the nation and make people healthier.

The steps taken by the health ministry towards the issue are spreading awareness among the citizens of the country and educating them about HIV.

The government is also working on improving the medical infrastructure of the nation so that it can be easy to treat people suffering from life-threatening diseases like HIV and many more.

It is also important for the people of the nation to accept their disease and speak to their doctor before it can harm their lives.