Remarkable Progress in HIV Fight: The Bahamas Reports Significant Advances

Remarkable Progress in HIV Fight: The Bahamas Reports Significant Advances 2

The Bahamas has made significant progress in combating HIV, as reported by the Minister of Health and Wellness, the Hon. Dr. Michael Darville. During a World AIDS Day and HIV/AIDS Update Press Conference on December 1, 2023, Minister Darville highlighted a 63% decrease in new HIV diagnoses from 2012 to 2022. Furthermore, the number of patients on treatment has nearly tripled, rising from 1047 in 2012 to 3017 in 2022, with medication provided free of charge in both private and public sectors.

AIDS-related deaths have also decreased by 41% from 2012 to 2021. Remarkably, in 2022, there were no cases of mother-to-child HIV transmission among women who were on HIV treatment, although two cases occurred in mothers not on treatment.

The Bahamas is close to achieving the UNAIDS 2030 global targets, with 93% of people living with HIV knowing their status, 82% of those on treatment, and 81% achieving viral suppression. The Ministry has implemented several strategies, including integrating HIV/STI and TB programs, updating epidemiological data (noting significant decreases in chlamydia and gonorrhoea cases), launching updated STI and viral hepatitis guidelines, and training healthcare workers.

Significant efforts in public outreach include distributing over 101,000 free condoms, conducting 30 community events with free HIV testing, and educating primary and junior high students on HIV prevention and decision-making skills. The Bahamas has also introduced the HIV Prevention Pill (HIV PrEP) and updated National HIV Testing Policy.

A notable advancement is the introduction of Oral HIV Self Testing with the ‘Ora-Quick’ test, empowering individuals to test for HIV in private settings. This initiative is a collaboration with PAHO, Caribbean Med Labs, Ports International, and the DMARCO Foundation. The Bahamas’ efforts mark a turning point in the fight against HIV/AIDS, moving towards the end of AIDS as a public health threat.

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