Men called upon to get tested for HIV/AIDS

Coordinator of the Drug Control Unit, within the Ministry of Education Arthur Pierre

Coordinator of the Drug Control Unit, within the Ministry of Education Arthur Pierre

Coordinator of the Drug Control Unit, within the Ministry of Health, Arthur Pierre has expressed concern that men in Grenada are not willing to come forward to be tested for HIV/AIDS.

Pierre, who spoke to local reporters, pointed to statistics, which shows that more women than men are coming forward to be tested for the dreaded virus.

“Women are generally health seekers, they would go and find out what is going on with them. A lot of men are not coming forward and getting tested. A number of our men folk are coming down with HIV and that is a cause for concern,” he said.

“You (men) need to go and get tested. Get an HIV test, find out what is happening. You might save your life and the life of somebody else. Government is allowing persons to get tested free of cost,” he added.

According to Pierre, a number of persons came forward and took the HIV/AIDS test in January but no new HIV/AIDS cases were recorded.

However, he noted while that is a good sign, it does not mean that persons are not infecting themselves.

“If they are not protecting themselves then they are at risk,” said Pierre as he explained the different categories in which the Ministry of Health calculates the HIV/AIDS statistics.

“We have three categories – HIV surveillance where persons are tested and diagnosed with the HIV infection, AIDS – where persons move on from the infection to the actual disease (and) AIDS and Death Related cases – where persons would have died because of AIDS related illnesses,” he remarked.

Pierre disclosed that the Ministry of Health has noted a drop in the number of persons affected with the HIV infection moving on to the AIDS disease in the last few years.

He said that several of the persons diagnosed with the infection have been adhering to the medication, which is the cause for the drop in numbers.

“When we have adherence, we see limited numbers moving on from HIV to AIDS, ” Pierre said, while emphasizing that “the medication allows persons to be able to survive or control how the infection interferes with their immune system.”

“As it relates to AIDS surveillance, we had 20 persons in 2011, 10 persons in 2012, 11 persons in 2013, and in 2014 we only had four persons (three males and one female) going on to AIDS,” he added.

Pierre pointed out that in 2014, a total of nine persons succumbed to HIV related illnesses, while seven deaths were recorded in 2013, compared to previous years when the death toll recorded was higher.

“This” he said,  “compares to other years when the numbers were in the ‘teens,’ so it tells us that persons are trying to adhere to the use of the medication.”

“Collectively, from 1984 to 2014 we have 537 cases (349 males as compared to 188 females), noted Pierre as he called on the men of the nation to go and get tested for HIV/AIDS.

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