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World AIDS Day: Targets set to end public health threat by 2030

World AIDS Day

Posted: Thursday, December 1, 2022. 11:10 am CST.

By Aaron Humes: Cabinet has announced on the occasion of World AIDS Day that Belizeans are encouraged to join in the global call to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.

World AIDS Day, held every December 1, is the second of the tentpole observances within the 16 Days of Activism, specifically in solidarity with the families of those who have died and are living with HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus).

This year’s theme is #Equalize, addressing inequalities and challenges that block progress in ending this health pandemic.

In Belize, 2,893 persons were living with HIV at the end of 2021, of whom less than half – 44 percent – were receiving antiretroviral therapy, and half of these – 22 percent, were at virological suppression level.

By 2020, an international target of 90 percent awareness of HIV status, 90 percent of sufferers receiving sustained antiretroviral therapy and 90 percent of all receiving such therapy to reach viral suppression, had been set for 2025. That has now been increased to 95 percent in each category. But the barriers of stigma, discrimination, fear and negative attitudes and rigid belief systems also remain.

The National HIV Program of the Ministry of Health & Wellness and the National AIDS Commission (NAC) continue to work on various elements of awareness and combat of HIV – differentiated testing approaches catering to the diverse needs of individuals; awareness-raising activities on HIV spread; and strengthening community engagement and supporting activities, continuing into the third week of December.

Today you can get tested at any health centre countrywide for HIV, syphilis, and Hepatitis B and C, and begin to get treated and counselled with Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), condom use, behavioural change, proper referral to care and treatment, and continuous health monitoring.

The Ministry encourages the public to come out, participate and support its activities countrywide in December, to get tested, know their status and end AIDS once and for all.

 

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