World AIDS Day Physician Assures Morality as a Must to Crush Down HIV

World AIDS Day is observed on the 1st of December each year.  The day is set aside as an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died. In Belize, we also observe this day as the National Day for HIV testing. Dr. Marvin Manzanero, is the Director, of the National Program for HIV AIDS, in the Ministry of Health.

vlcsnap-2013-12-02-19h12m50s0Dr. Marvin Manzanero- Director of the National Program of HIVAIDS

“World Aids Day has been celebrated globally for the last 26 years.  In Belize, it has been gradually shifted to National HIV testing as of 2006, and the reason why it is important is because of the given importance that HIV has for the Belizean society and globally, as a society, HIV needs to continue to be in the spotlight”.

World AIDS Day and other activities commemorating the day-is being observed under the Global theme of “Getting to Zero”; a global commitment to have Zero new HIV infections, Zero cases of discrimination and Zero cases of AIDS-related death by the year 2015.

AIDS Virus picturesDr. Marvin Manzanero:  “Getting to Zero” came as a result of a 2000 commitment made at the UN General sessions that looks specifically at HIV, and that is because we are countries committed globally to try to reach global-regional-national targets, particularly in three main areas which is zero new HIV infections, zero AIDS related deaths and zero cases of stigma and discrimination.  We are halfway the time period that we have allocated for that that countries have committed to that.  So, by 2015, we are supposed to be getting to that zero.  So, the topic from 2011 for “Every World AIDS day”, we’ll continue to be getting down to zero”.

AIDS day picturesBelize has adopted many public policies in an effort to reduce the incidence and prevalence of HIV. We have seen a decrease in the number of new infections. However prevalence rate of HIV infections documented for Belize at the end of 2012 was 1.4%; a decrease from previous figure of 2.4%. Despite these efforts; Belize has the highest prevalence rate in Central America and the 5th or 6th highest in the Caribbean region.  Dr. Manzanero speaks statistics and why he believes our HIV & AIDS epidemic rate is high.

Dr. Marvin Manzanero:  “One of the key reasons why our prevalence rate is high, has to do with,(not with the lack of knowledge) but mainly we don’t really change our behavior; people don’t see themselves of being at risk for getting HIV, so the behavior doesn’t change.  If I can mirror that behavior to anything similar to that, I guess it would be the road safety where we still speed, go above 55 miles, don’t wear seatbelts; it is the same kind of risky behavior.  People are still having multiple partners; people are still having unprotected sex.  That is perhaps what drives the epidemic.  99% of the cases in Belize have to do with sexual activity; very little drug use or very little mother to child transmission cases.   Those are the drivers of the epidemics.  That is what we are trying to influence”.

Graphics pictures statistics HIV 2013Reporter:  “Talk to me about the statistics for Belize”.

Dr. Marvin Manzanero:  “I think we are going to be having less numbers than we had last year.  We have been having reductions since 2008, had a slight spike last year by the end of 2012, but I think we are on the go down under 200 this year.  Males are turning out to be three times as many positive cases than females, even though they are less tested”.

Social Seciruty Compound BelmopanAnother HIV Testing clinic will be held on Thursday at the Social Security compound in the City of Belmopan at no cost. As of 2003, all anti-retroviral drugs are free of cost and available through public health facilities countrywide. World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day and the first one was held in the year 1988.

 

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