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What TCI Ministry of Health says about World AIDS Day 2023 under the theme: “Let Communities Lead”  

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#TurksandCaicos, December 5, 2023 – World AIDS Day is observed annually on December 1st, dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic and mourning those who have died from the disease. It is also an opportunity to show support for people living with HIV and to promote the importance of community-driven efforts in the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS.

HIV remains a major global public health issue, having claimed 40.4 million [32.9–51.3 million] lives so far with ongoing transmission in all countries globally; with some countries reporting increasing trends in new infections when previously on the decline. There were an estimated 39.0 million [33.1–45.7 million] people living with HIV at the end of 2022.

In the Latin American and Caribbean region, around 2.5 million people are living with HIV. In 2022, approximately 130,000 people acquired the virus, and 33,000 lost their lives due to AIDS-related causes. There is no cure for HIV infection. HIV infection has become a manageable chronic health condition, enabling people living with HIV to lead long and healthy lives.

HIV is a preventable disease. The risk of HIV infection can be reduced by:

  • Using a male or female condom during sex. Condoms are readily available from the Ministry of Health, Primary Care Clinics and other outlets free of cost
  • Being tested for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections regularly
  • Using harm reduction services for people who inject and use drugs
  • Doctors may suggest medicines and medical devices to help prevent HIV, including antiretroviral drugs (ARVs), including oral pre-exposure prophylaxis
  • ARVs can also be used to prevent mothers from passing HIV to their children.

People taking antiretroviral therapy (ART) and who have no evidence of virus in the blood will not pass HIV on to their sexual partners. Access to testing and ART is an important part of preventing HIV.

Commenting on the importance of observing World AIDS Day, the Minister of Health and Human Services – Honourable Shaun D. Malcolm emphasized that “On this World AIDS Day, the global community comes together under the theme “Let Communities Lead” to emphasize the pivotal role communities play in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Recognizing the power of collective action, this year’s focus is on empowering and amplifying the voices of communities affected by HIV/AIDS. Minister Malcolm is appealing to all residents of the TCI to play their part in the fight against HIV/AIDS and to work together as one”.

Communities are the heartbeat of the response to HIV/AIDS, fostering support networks, reducing stigma, and providing vital education. This approach aligns with the vision of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), which underscores the importance of community-led initiatives in their commitment to ending the AIDS epidemic. Community leaders and civic societies can lead this charge by:

  • Helping to reach vulnerable, stigmatized and other difficult-to-reach populations;
  • Speaking out and assist in combating stigma and discrimination to ensure that everyone feels safe to access HIV services;
  • Reaching out to key and vulnerable populations and assist them to access HIV services when needed;
  • Ensuring that adolescents, youth at risk, pregnant women and infants receive adequate care that incorporates HIV;
  • Supporting health workers to provide HIV services to everyone in the community.

To commemorate World AIDS Day, we invite you to explore PAHO’s dedicated campaign page https://www.paho.org/en/campaigns/world-aids-day-2023″>here, where you can find resources, stories of resilience, and information on how communities across the globe are leading the charge against HIV/AIDS. Let us stand united, hand in hand with communities, as we strive for a world where no one is left behind in the fight against HIV/AIDS. The Ministry of Health and Human Services is encouraging everyone to wear red on 1 December 2023 to show solidarity, raise awareness, and honour those affected by HIV/AIDS.

HIV testing and counselling is available at the Primary Health Care Clinics across the Turks and Caicos Islands. Follow the Health Promotion and Advocacy Units Facebook page for additional information on https://www.facebook.com/tcihealthpromotions/.

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Caribbean News

Irish Humanitarian Organization in Haiti – Address Hunger Crisis and More

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Rashaed Esson

Staff Writer

 

#Haiti#Crisis#ConcernWorldwide, February 2oth, 2024 – Seeing that Haiti’s humanitarian crisis worsens day by day with too many Haitians, hundreds of thousands, edging the line to severe deprivation of food, Ireland’s largest aid and humanitarian agency Concern Worldwide is addressing major food insecurity. 

 The organization in a release said “ “We are providing food assistance, via electronic vouchers to help families purchase food from local vendors so that they can feed their families and prevent malnutrition in children as the situation worsens.”

They are also working to provide Haitians with clean water and sanitation as the waterborne disease Cholera continues to threaten lives, killing more than 1,150 people in 2023.

And, they provide referrals for cases of sexual and gender based violence in Port au Prince.

Concern is supported by funding from USAID, receiving €2.1 million (euros) to help over 30 thousand people in the hunger crisis as well as €1 million (euros) yearly from the Irish Government for its work in Haiti.

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Health

How to protect against HIV 

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Dana Malcolm 

Staff Writer

 

 

#TurksandCaicos, February 15, 2024 – HIV/AIDS has killed more than 40 million people globally since it first appeared in the human population in 1959 according to the World Health Organization WHO and even though there are effective treatments there is no cure making prevention practices a top priority for vulnerable groups.

In recent months claims have emerged of rising cases locally creating concern in some Turks and Caicos residents.  The Ministry of Health has remained silent on the issue and has not published relevant statistics despite repeated queries from Magnetic Media.

Given the continued presence of the virus, individuals are still at risk from infection. In fact the WHO says in 2022, when 630,000 people died from HIV-related causes and 1.3 million people acquired HIV.

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is the virus behind AIDS, the most advanced form of HIV.

The virus spreads through the body fluids of an infected person, including blood, breast milk, semen and vaginal fluids. It is not spread by kisses, hugs or sharing food.

With this in mind there are several steps that residents can take to protect themselves including

  • Using condoms during sex
  • Limiting sexual partners
  • Being tested regularly
  • avoiding sharing needles, syringes and other injecting equipment
  • Using personal protective gear when dealing with bodily fluids

Vulnerable populations can be administered Pre Exposure Prophylaxis which work to prevent infection and Post Exposure Prophylaxis which can prevent the virus from taking hold.

An HIV diagnosis is not a death sentence.  In 2024 HIV can be treated and prevented with antiretroviral therapy (ART). These drugs strengthen the immune system which HIV weakens significantly.

Still the WHO encourages residents to take preventative action.

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Health

CARPHA: Take Action to Avoid the Harmful Effects of Saharan Dust

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February 16, 2024 – The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) is urging persons to protect themselves against adverse health effects of a Saharan dust plume, which has covered many parts of the Caribbean.

The Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH) in a Dust Bulletin dated February 9th, 2024 stated, “it is highly likely that particulate matter levels will be above the 24-hour outdoor air quality guidelines” as established by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Dr Joy St John, Executive Director, CARPHA, explained “Saharan dust worsens air quality and increases the levels of particulate matter in the air.  This can be hazardous, especially to small children, older adults and people with underlying lung conditions and chronic cardiopulmonary diseases”.  Dr St John added, “Saharan dust can also worsen the health symptoms of those who suffer from asthma, allergies and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)”.

In light of the poor air quality levels, CARPHA is encouraging persons to take steps to avoid the harmful effects of Saharan dust. These include:

  • Stay indoors as much as possible and when outdoors, wear a dust mask (eg. KN95)
  • Utilise a HEPA filter indoors to purify air in individual rooms
  • Persons who use medications for pulmonary conditions should carry them at all times and use as prescribed
  • At the first sign of difficulty while breathing, seek professional medical advice immediately
  • For less severe symptoms, standard allergy medications such as antihistamines and steroid nasal sprays may alleviate symptoms

For more information, please see excerpts from the attached CIMH Dust Bulletin.

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