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Thread: AIDS in Belize

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  1. #1
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    Love FM:

    HIV/AIDS WORKPLACE EDUCATION PROGRAMME INTRODUCED

    The HIV/AIDS Workplace Education Program will be introduced today in the Northern Region. Last month a similar program was introduced in Belize City and there are plans to have the project at a countrywide level. National Project Coordinator, Sheila Middleton said the three year program will be implemented through the Ministry of Labour. The project aims to contribute to the prevention of HIV/AIDS in the world of work, improving workplace protection and reduction of its adverse consequences on social, labour and economic development. The introduction of the program takes place at the Belize Sugar Industries Staff Club in Orange Walk Town.

  2. #2
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    Ch 5:

    Churches look for ways to deal with AIDS
    Church leaders from across the country have taken a break from their congregations to attend a three day workshop in Belize City, dealing with pastoral care for people infected with and affected by HIV and AIDS. Organized by a group called the Commission for a Faith Based Response to HIV/AIDS, the workshop is the second attempt at enlisting the cooperation of the church, across denominational lines, in fighting the deadly disease. Anglican Bishop Sylvestre Romero Palma says AIDS is a challenge not only to religious organisations, but the whole of society.

    Bishop Sylvestre Romero Palma, Anglican Church
    “It means even those persons who are non-Christians or other religious denominations; it’s everybody who needs to be involved. And we need to take on that responsibility, children right up to the older folks, they have a role to play. It’s not only for us as Christians, but everybody I think it’s our responsibility.”

    Patrick Jones
    “Given that a large part of the AIDS epidemic has to do with behaviour, how can you as a pastor effectively deal with it in your congregation without stepping on anybody’s toes?”

    Bishop Sylvestre Romero Palma
    ”That’s a good question. I think that whenever we speak to somebody, first of all, we need to speak the truth. And it’s the truth that hurts, and so we will always be stepping on people’s toes if they are doing something that is wrong.”

    Patrick Jones
    “Is the church ready to deal with this in its congregation?”

    Bishop Sylvestre Romero Palma
    ”The church must be ready; it’s not a matter of is the church ready. I think, for example, in my role as a leader of the church we need to understand that, that [for] the church it’s not a matter of being ready, but that it is our duty, that is our responsibility be able to speak out.”

    Canon Philip Wright, Anglican Church
    “This workshop that we are organising is to sort of hopefully expose pastors and those involved in the pastoral care of the sick and so forth, with some skills that can help them in that ministry, specifically aimed at those suffering from HIV and AIDS and affected families as well.”

    Patrick Jones
    “Can it work just simply by the pastor from the pulpit telling his congregation to be careful?”

    Canon Philip Wright
    ”No, I think it has to go beyond that. And that is also a part of the purpose of the workshop, to expose us to where we can also be in the trenches if you will, meeting with these people, advocating for them, and making sure that as a society, as community, we are sensitive to the need to provide the best quality care for people such as these individuals.”

    At the end of the workshop on Thursday, organisers say they hope to compile recommendations into a manual for use in churches and communities around the country. The workshop on pastoral care for persons affected and infected with HIV and AIDS is being supported by the United Nations Children's Fund, UNICEF.

  3. #3
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    The Reporter:

    Back from the Brink! Floyd has won his battle against AIDS or so it seems...
    (Friday 27 February 2004 10:28:25 am)

    Four and a half months ago 35-year -old Floyd Allen Leslie was on his way out!

    He looked terrible, with bumps on his face and hands, his gaunt frame and his lean and hungry look.

    He was dying and he knew it, because everybody knows that you don’t recover from seven debilitating years of HIV/AIDS.

    But Floyd Allen Leslie has recovered. He has come back from the brink - to the extent that he can jog for eight miles and not feel tired.

    When he walked into the Reporter office this week, after only 18 weeks of bush medicine therapy, he was not the derelict of a man who used to live under the Bel-China Bridge, shunned by family and friends.

    There was an umistakable strut in his stride. His chest was well developed like a body-builder’s. He braced his shoulders and crooked his arms like a bird with brood chicks. The muscles of his upper arms, his bicepts and tricepts, were clearly defined.

    BelChina Bridgeman

    His appearance was so changed, I had to ask:
    “Are you the same guy who used to sleep under the Bel-China bridge?”


    “Yes,” he smiled a broad smile. “That’s me!”
    It took a few minutes for the reality to sink in.


    Floyd Allen Leslie had been a familiar figure around the Reporter Press. He used to come for money to buy food. More than a year ago he told me that he had AIDS, but I would not have guessed it was the same person.

    This morning he looked like a new man. The swagger was under-standable. Sometimes when you pump up your muscles too quickly, you tend to walk like a penguin. But in this case you could tell that Leslie was doing his strutting for effect. He felt good and he wanted others to know it!

    For a man who has faced the tribulations that he has faced and the prospects of almost certain death, his recovery is a remarkable story of perseverance and achievement.

    Five months ago, in early October 2003 Leslie decided to take up an offer made by the Reporter, to take the bush medicine therapy being offered by herbalist Harry Guy, curandero of San Ignacio.

    Take a chance on herb therapy

    Harry Guy had announced that he had developed a herbal brew which was effective against the AIDS virus. Nobody believed him and when the Reporter offered to sponsor and pay for six test cases, the offer was met with disdain from the AIDS Commission in Belize City, which published a statement cautioning people about the danger of being used as guinea pigs.

    As we sat down to talk, Leslie explained that he had tried to get medication from the Cleopatra White Health Centre during several months. But the people at the health centre kept telling him that their supplies had not yet arrived.

    That’s when he decided to try the herb therapy being offered by Harry Guy. It was a decision which he would not regret.

    “I was born in 1968. My father is William Carl Lewis who lives in Belize City. My mother, Dylsie Dawson, lives in New York, he began.

    “I am a fisherman by trade. I have fished on and around Long Caye, near Stann-Creek for more than a dozen years.

    “I remember it was on a Sunday evening July of 1993. I had just come in from Long Caye for some supplies and I was standing near the small wooden pier opposite the Bellevue Hotel.

    “Without warning I found myself surrounded by four men. Two of them had machetes; one had a knife. One of them attacked me from behind with a neck lock, while two others rifled through my pockets.

    “I was carrying $700 in cash - money I needed for supplies, so I resisted fiercely. The guy with the necklock stuck his knife into my back and when that did not quiet me, he did it again. I glanced up just in time to see the blade of the other guy’s machete heading towards my face.

    “I put out my hand instinctively to ward off the blow and sustained a terrible cut to my forearm.”

    “After that I stopped struggling and allowed them to do what they wanted. They stripped me of my watch - an expensive Citizen diving watch, my money and a gold chain I was wearing and ran off.
    “I limped across to the Bellevue Hotel and collapsed on the floor, bleeding profusely.”


    Next stop: K.H.M.H.

    That attack at the Bellevue pier landed Floyd Allen Leslie in the hospital. The Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital had just been opened and he was admitted. He needed urgent surgery to his forearm and back.

    It took eighteen stitches to mend the slash to his forearm and the doctors explained they could not sew back the severed sinues in his forearm. They had to take them out. He also had to have a blood transfusion to replace vital fluids he had lost in the attack.

    Leslie would have reason four years later to remember that transfusion because it left a mark on his immune system as deep as the wound on his arm.

    “Around June 1997, while at Long Caye I began to feel terrible,” Leslie recalls.

    First flu

    “I was, fishing as usual, when I came down with the flu. I thought at the time it was flu: high fever and chills, but no runny nose and no cough. I had pain all over my body from every joint and I was stuck in bed for four days.

    “After I recovered I went back to diving, but the fever and the pain came back in July and again in August.

    “In September 1997, after my fourth attack, I decided to come in to Belize to see the doctor.

    “In October I went to the Medical Associates on St.Thomas Street for a blood test. I took the test results to Dr. Filberto Cawich, who looked at the paper and looked at me.

    “This test shows that you are HIV positive,” he said.
    “I sat there looking at him in disbelief. ‘You’re mistaken’ I told him. I knew I had not been fooling around. I felt sure there was a mistake somewhere and I told him so.


    A second opinion

    “Dr. Cawich advised me to get a second opinion. As I walked out of his office I put the test paper in my pocket and soon forgot about it.
    People can’t catch AIDS from fresh sea breeze!”


    “So I returned to Long Caye in a state of denial. I would not believe it. I could not believe it! I began to work. I did free dives and tank dives hunting for conch, fish, lobster- whatever was in season.

    “But I found I could not do the work. I became tired easily. I would go to bed at seven at night and wake up in the morning feeling tired. I could sleep for a night and a day and still wake up feeling tired.

    “Early in the new year (1998) I came down with a paralysing illness. I had night sweats and I lost my appetite. I began to lose weight fast. With a jolt I remembered Dr. Cawich and the things he had told me. He had predicted what would happen.

    Dr. Cawich had told me in October that I would lose weight and have night sweats. He said I would lose my appetite. I remembered and became cold all over.”

    After four months of intermittent illness at Long Caye, Floyd Leslie decided to go to a hospital in Dangriga to find out what was wrong with his health.

    “I made up my mind to go to Dangriga and check into the hospital there. That was the closest place- about 20 miles by sea. At the Dangriga hospital I met Dr. Ken who who told me that I had bronchial pneumonia.

    “Dr. Ken treated me and I remained in the hospital for ten days. I did not mention anything about HIV/AIDS and neither did Dr.Ken. But the first thing I did on leaving the hospital was to walk down to Commerce Street, to Medical Laboratories. I met the manager, Dr. Chou and told him that I wanted to pay for a blood test. He nodded and said it would take two hours.

    “Two hours later I was back at Dr.Chou’s. He looked at me and handed me an envelope. ‘Mr. Leslie, it does not look so good,’ he said to me.
    “I took it from him without a word and walked out. I opened the envelope in the bright sunlight and read the paper inside.


    “It said that the blood from the subject indicates that the subject is HIV positive.
    “Now I had to believe. I now had evidence from two independent tests. I could no longer ignore what I was feeling and I remembered the words of Dr. Filberto Cawich.


    “I had also read a lot about AIDS and I knew there was no cure for it. I also remembered my seven weeks at the Karl Heusner Hospital back in 1993 and a deep, deep melancholy overpowered me. I made my way to the seaside with my chest heaving. I could not hold back the tears.

    “I knew instinctively that I would not have the energy to go back to work at the caye. Fishing is hard work. So I came to Belize City instead, not knowing what else to do.

    “In Belize City I met a remarkable man, Charlie Osborn, an American, who was building a church - Divine Mercy Church - in the Buttonwood Bay area, Northern Highway.

    “I spoke to him and told him of my situation. Charlie was a good man. He took me in and gave me a bed and mattress to sleep on.
    He paid me to cook for the workers who were building the church and do odd jobs. I stayed with Charlie for ten months until his church was almost finished.


    By then I was feeling strong enough to return to Long Caye. That’s what I wanted to do, so I took a boat out to Long Caye and tried to get back into my old trade.

    “But I found that I couldn’t stay out there. I could not do that kind of work anymore. I therefore went back to Dangriga.

    “In Dangriga I gained the confidence to tell other people about my problem. I remember reading St. Paul’s letter to the people of Corinth - the part about the importance of charity.

    Though I speak with the tongues of angels and have not charity, I am nothing... And if I give all my goods to the poor and offer my body to be burned, and have not charity, I gain nothing... And now there remains these three - faith, hope and charity. But the greatest of these is charity!

    “In Dangriga I made a number of presentations to students in the high schools. I figured that if I could help these young people who are in danger of contracting HIV, I could do some good.

    “My first presentation was at DeLille Academy in Dangriga. It was a big success. They held the presentation at the auditorium because the classrooms were not big enough to hold the students.

    “After that I spoke to the students of Holy Ghost and Sacred Heart schools and to the students of the Methodist School in Dangriga.

    I earned some money from these talks, so I travelled to Orange Walk and spoke to the students of Muffles College and Bishop Martin High School. I made five presentations in Orange Walk before coming back to Belize City.

    In Belize I spoke to students of St. John’s Junion College, to the Theology and Sociology classes and also made a presentation to the National Library Service.

    During this time I also appeared on Channel 5 Television as a person living with AIDS and telling of my experience.

    “In spite of all my efforts, life was hard. Meals were difficult to come by. I had no place to live and no place to sleep. So I made a make-shift bed from the carcass of an old automobile seat I found. I scavenged a large plastic bag, about seven feet long, and used this as a sleeping bag when it rained a lot and when it became too cold.

    “People who knew that I was living under the Bel China Bridge began to refer to me as the Bridge Troll. Everybody knew that I had AIDS and people, even friends, avoided me. If they see me walking on one side of the street, they would cross over to the other side and pretend not to see me.

    “It was a bitter experience for me to observe how my fishermen friends avoided me. It was as if I had leprosy.

    “One day I was standing near the Bel China Bridge, having a snack, when a stranger rode up to me and handed me a newspaper page. It was a page from the Reporter of September, 2003. He pointed to an article which said that one Mr. Harry Guy, a herbs man in San Ignacio, was claiming that he had a herbal medicine that would help people with AIDS.

    “I was sceptical at first, but after a few days of thinking about it, I decided that I had nothing to lose. I knew that sooner or later the disease would kill me. So I went to the Reporter newspaper and spoke to the Publisher, Mr. Harry Lawrence.

    “The publisher told me to go and see Mr. Harry Guy in San Ignacio. He gave me directions and a telephone number. He didn’t ask me for my name or anything, and he told me that the Reporter would pay for the treatment.

    “Go and see Mr. Guy,” he said to me. So I did.

    “I took my few possessions with me, thinking I would have to remain in San Ignacio. This was in mid September last year. When I met Mr. Guy, he explained there was no need for me to stay in San Ignacio.

    “He wrote down my name and asked me for the blood test results. He told me that my sickness was far advanced and asked me if I suffered from any weakness of the stomach. I needed to have a healthy stomach to take the medicine, he told me.

    “I received three quarts of the herbal medicine that day. He told me I would need to take the medicine for at least six months, one ounce three times a day with meals.

    I found the medicine not at all pleasant. It was bitter, and the aftertaste lingered in my mouth for what seemed like hours. But I continued to take it faithfully to this day. Today I would not dream of doing without it.

    “Mr. Guy has been great. Whenever I need more medicine, I would call him on the telephone and he would send me three new bottles on the bus the very next day. I am now on my tenth bottle.

    “For the first few weeks of drinking the medicine I saw and felt no improvement. But after six weeks I began to feel a lot better. The night sweats were the first to go. Then my appetite improved and I noticed that my energy began to come back.

    “I noticed that my ears have become very sensitive to sounds and today I can pick up on conversations between people a many feet away from me.

    “My night vision has also improved and I find that I can see objects in the dark that I could not see before. As the weeks go by, I see so much improvements and now I have begun to exercise. I had no choice. I had to turn to physical exercise because I had so much energy, I could not sit still.

    “I took up jogging and did push-ups to build my arm and lung muscles. I excercise for hours every day, but I don’t lift weights. I do calisthenics and I run.

    “People see me on the highway and think that I am crazy. But I run for the pure joy of running. If I do not run, I find I cannot go to sleep at nights. I must burn off my excess energy.

    “Today I feel younger and stronger than I have ever been in my life. I eat lots and lots of raw vegetables - carrots, cabbage, cauliflower, tomato, onion, garlic and broccoli.

    “I don’t eat meat anymore - neither beef nor pork nor chicken. I will only have fish as a soup and I have given up on game meat, lobster, conch, etc.

    Today I am happy and proud of what I have accomplished, thanks to Mr. Harry Guy and the Reporter for giving those powerful herbs a chance to work their magic.

    “I believe that I will be completely cured, and that Mr. Harry Guy will go on to help thousands of people at home and abroad who now are now living with AIDS.

    “I look forward to my viral load test later this year, which will provide the scientific proof that Mr. Guy’s herbal medicine should be taken seriously. From my own experience with the herbal medicine, I can see a cure in sight.

    If it doesn’t cure me completely, it will restore my immune system to the point where I can once more lead a normal, healthy and productive life.”

    Of the six places made available to people living with AIDS under the Reporter programme, four have been taken up, and all four are taking the herbal medicine regularly. Some are progressing faster than others, but all say they are benefitting from the treatment.

  4. #4
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    test

  5. #5
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    The Reporter:

    Clinicians look at ways to curb HIV/AIDS
    (Friday 27 February 2004 10:19:14 am)

    Doctors fighting the AIDS pandemic in Belize are frustrated, knowing that their power to help is limited owing to a lack of resources.

    Medical practitioners throughout the country joined the Ministry of Health in its attempt to educate health care providers and make them aware of the HIV/AIDS situation in Belize, through a three-day workshop on February 23 - 25.

    The HIV/AIDS clinical management training initiative, covered the scientific study of HIV and early infection, clinical manifestations of advanced HIV, dosage and usage of anti-retroviral treatment, the initial evaluation and management of infected patients and ways of preventing maternal to child transmission of HIV.

    In a shocking but true briefing, doctors explained the medical situation with the HIV/AIDS virus in Belize, and the lack of medicine and other resources that could assist.

    They described their frustration in dealing with people, knowing that proper equipment and medicine cannot be provided. Many doctors at the workshop mentioned that Belizeans who become aware that they are infected, have avoided the stigma and have refused treatment or have "Supposingly disappeared."

    Dr. Pedro Arriaga expressed his views, "We don't have the infrastructure or treatment for our patients. It is hard to deal with these patients, especially when the entire family is infected with the virus, it is sad. All I can offer is support medicine which is limited to none. We are trying to develop a national network, where with all the AIDS victims; we can monitor their progress on a whole through computers.

    The hospitals are facing problems with differentiating what disease patients have. We have no help from the UNAIDS and to make it worse, some of our physicians don't want to treat these patients, but it is pure ignorance. It is not until recently that we have been receiving small donations of anti-retroviral medicine which is clearly not enough."
    In 1986 the first HIV/AIDS case in Belize was recorded. Since then, a check in September 2003 by the National Alliance Against Aids, shows the alarming growth to 2,363 infected people. The major increase has suggested to doctors, that the most prevalent form of transmission has been sexual.


    According to Dr. Arriaga, only three cases in 2001 have been transmitted through blood transfusion.

    Also making a presentation was Dr. David Wheeler of the United States. He spoke of what is HIV, how it is transmitted and what actually takes place within the blood cells once the virus is contracted.

    This information has lead to indications of the careless and irresponsible nature of human beings with their intimate partners.
    Dr. Paul Edwards told participants, "This workshop is for clinicians to increase their knowledge of how to manage and deal with people with AIDS. We are planning to have centers throughout the country, and we are trying to increase the amount of trained personnel to deal with these centres. We also have Voluntary Testing and Counselling centres available in the City and are trying to expand them to the districts, in hope to educate and assist more people."


    The Ministry of Health hopes to assist doctors access treatment and better equipment, in order to provide better medical attention to HIV patients.

  6. #6
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    Cayo kids march against AIDS

    Ch 5:

    Cayo kids march against AIDS




    The effort to curb the spread of AIDS invariably focuses on behavioural change...and to that end we see plenty of catchy advertisements in the media advocating abstinence, the use of condoms, and monogamous relationships. Today the Cayo District was the venue for a unique approach that centred on the forgotten victims of the disease. Patrick Jones reports.

    Patrick Jones, Reporting
    The main streets of San Ignacio Town were overrun by children this morning. Their placards and chants were aimed squarely at their parents.

    Patrick Jones
    "Henry, why are you taking part in the march today?"

    Henry Joseph Galvez, Std. 3, St. Andrews Anglican
    "Because to inform parents about HIV, to protect themselves and to let us not be orphans."

    Joris Groenendaal, Std. 6, Sacred Heart Primary
    "Today I am taking part in this event to give a message to the community about AIDS, what AIDS is about and that HIV AIDS kills people and they leave children orphaned."

    According to Lavern Maskall, Cornerstone Foundation's HIV/AIDS project manager, the impact of the deadly disease also has serious implications for children and now is the time to take them into serious consideration.

    Lavern Maskall, HIV/AIDS Project Manager
    "The main purpose is for us to get a chance to hear what the young people want to say. HIV/AIDS in Belize is not only affecting adults, it's also affecting our young people, our children, our future and we tend to only look on adults and put them in the background. But they want to voice their opinion, they know about it and we should give them a chance to express exactly how they feel about the whole situation."

    Patrick Jones
    "The students taking part in today's demonstration attend various primary schools here in san Ignacio. But more than just a couple of hours outside of the classroom, they are hoping that their message will reach the entire population because conservative estimates are that by the year 2010 as many as five thousand boys and girls just like will lose their parents to AIDS."

    Melissa Marie Avella, Std. 3, St. Andrews Primary
    "We want parents to protect themselves and to not let us be orphans. We need our parents around for more years. "

    Joris Groenendaal
    "Adults need to know about HIV AIDS because if they get this sickness, they might die--they will die most likely and then their children will stay orphaned and they will have an unhappy life."

    John Lanou, a volunteer with Cornerstone, the local N.G.O. that organised the AIDS Orphan March, says trends in the spread of the deadly disease looks ominous for children.

    John Lanou, Volunteer, Cornerstone Foundation
    "Those statistics are base on UNICEF international statistic. At the end of 2001 approximately one thousand children in Belize were AIDS orphans. So we've done extrapolations just based on population growth and that figure that by 2010 two percent of Belizean children will be AIDS orphans."

    Perla Martinez, Std. 6, Sacred Heart Primary
    "I am taking part in this march because I want everybody in the community and the country of Belize to be aware of AIDS and what AIDS does to people."

    Patrick Jones
    "What does?"

    Perla Martinez
    "It harms your immune system and it kills you. Then it makes you leave behind like your property and children. And children do not like to alone without their parents."

    And while their voices may be small, the messages coming from these children run deep.

    Andy Pech, Std. 6, Faith Nazarene Primary
    "They can protect themselves by thinking about what they are going to do at first and by saying I won't do what I want to do right now. I want to protect my child, live a longer life so I could see my child in the future."

    Perla Martinez
    "Well my message would be that they protect themselves from HIV/AIDS, to get tested, and to before get married to ask their partner to get tested. And another way to protect themselves should be abstinence. "

    Krista Mai, Std. 6, Faith Nazarene Primary
    "First of all we are her because we want advise the parents to protect themselves from HIV/AIDS... To be aware that AIDS is very contagious and they have to protect their children also from it."

    Patrick Jones for News 5.

    The Cornerstone Foundation says it will continue to sponsor public events to increase awareness of AIDS.

  7. #7
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    Ministry of Health Announces Voluntary HIV Testing

    Ministry of Health Announces Voluntary HIV Testing

    09 December, 2003 - Belmopan
    The National AIDS Programme/Ministry of Health has embarked on a
    Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) Program to decrease risk and
    impact of HIV/AIDS through the delivery of efficient and effective
    HIV/AIDS services including the comprehensive management of Persons
    Living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) with the financial support and
    sustainability from the Government of Belize.

    The first VCT Centre has been established at the Cleopatra White Health
    Centre, Belize City, Belize. Vital components of this program involve
    the following:

    1. Pre-test Counselling
    · Assessment of knowledge of transmission and prevention of HIV/AIDS
    · Assessment of high risk behaviour
    · Development of a Behavioural Change Plan
    · Medical examination for Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)
    2. Laboratory testing for HIV and immediate results of HIV Status
    3. Immediate Post-test Counselling
    4. Continued Counselling and Support for HIV+ Individuals
    · HIV and Nutrition
    · HIV and Immune System
    · Antiretroviral Medications and Side Effects
    · Adherence
    · Resistance
    · Contact Tracing
    5. Antiretroviral Therapy (based on CD4 Count and Clinical Signs)
    · Adherence

    The Government of Belize has provided the funds and the Ministry of
    Health has procured Antiretrovirals and medications for Opportunistic
    Infections for 200 Belizeans Living With HIV/AIDS. PLWHA with clinical
    signs of AIDS and CD4 Counts between 350-200 cells/mm³ qualify to start
    therapy. Any Belizean requiring medications will have access to free
    ARVs.
    It is estimated that approximately 500 Belizeans require ARV Therapy.
    Belize was successful in its bid for Global Funds and will receive
    US$1,298,884 in the first two years. Therefore, the remaining ARVs will
    be procured through Global Funds to make available free and universal
    access of ARVs for all Belizeans and at the end of Global Fund the
    Government of Belize will provide these funds for sustainability of this
    programme.

    All Belizeans are invited to visit the Pro-Care and Treatment Center,
    Cleopatra White Health Center, to access the VCT Services and to be
    aware of his/her HIV Status with the finality of behaviour change,
    breaking the transmission of HIV and the reduction of new HIV
    Infections in Belize.

    During this year the National AIDS Programme/Ministry of Health has
    improved its HIV/AIDS Surveillance and its dissemination. One of every
    three HIV+ Individual will develop Tuberculosis. This program has been
    strengthened with a Clinician, guidelines, workshops, surveillance forms
    and monitor and evaluation.

    Healthcare workers involved in the prevention of the Mother to Child
    Transmission (MTCT) of HIV improved their counseling skills, to convince
    pregnant mothers to do their HIV Test, with their participation in a six
    days HIV/AIDS Counseling Workshop. These five workshops were also
    extended to healthcare workers involved in the Sexually Transmitted
    Infections, Tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS Programs and also from the private
    sector and non-governmental organizations.

    CD4 levels and Viral Load are important laboratory tests for the
    initiation of ARVs and also for the clinical management of HIV/AIDS.
    Through the aid of the Japanese Embassy the Ministry bought a CD4
    FACSCount System in 2002. Plans are presently underway to buy a machine
    that performs both Viral Load and PCR. The PCR will especially assist
    the MTCT Programme. Also laboratory diagnosis for opportunistic
    infections will be strengthened in collaboration with CAREC.

    Various guidelines were elaborated including:
    · Guidelines for Occupational and Body Fluids Exposures to Bloodborne
    Pathogens were developed for Healthcare workers and along with ARV
    therapy have been disseminated countrywide.
    · HIV/AIDS Counseling Manual
    · Guidelines for the Clinical Management of HIV/AIDS
    · Drug Profile for the Clinical Management of HIV/AIDS
    · Operational Manual for the VCT Center

    A Clinical Management of HIV/AIDS Workshop for Doctors and Nurses was
    conducted in 2002 and plans are presently underway to increase the
    capacity of our Internists and Pediatricians at each district level for
    the Clinical Management of HIV/AIDS in February 2004.

    The National AIDS program is presently engaged in two researches:
    1. In collaboration with the National Institute of Health, USA, and the
    Belize Association for Improved Healthcare the Ministry of Health is
    involved in a study that provides same day HIV results at specific VCT
    Sites. This investigation also serves as a pilot for the Ministry for
    its adoption after this study is completed.
    2. With PASCA and other agencies the Ministry of Health has initiated a
    multicenter study of STI/HIV Prevalences and Socio-behavioral patterns
    among specific populations in Belize.

    The immediate next steps of the National AIDS Programme/Ministry of
    Health, after monitor and evaluation of this first centre, includes
    having VCT Centres with the delivery of efficient and effective HIV/AIDS
    services including the comprehensive management of People Living with
    HIV/AIDS in the Stann Creek, Cayo and Orange Walk Districts in that
    order due to the number of infections.

  8. #8
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    AIDS in Belize

    Ch 5:

    Better care for HIV/AIDS sufferers

    A three-day training workshop on the clinical management of HIV/AIDS opened today in Belize City. Doctors and nurses from throughout the country are participating in the sessions, which included remarks from the Minister of Health Vildo Marin and Errol Fairweather, who has been benefiting from anti-retroviral therapy.

    Vildo Marin, Minister of Health
    "This programme includes the comprehensive management of persons living with HIV/AIDS with the financial support and sustainability from the government. The first V.C.T. centre was officially established at the Cleopatra White Health Centre in September 2003. An integral component of this service is the availability of the anti-retrovirals for those that satisfy the criteria. We are presently at the stage of extending these services to the other three regions of Belize, mainly the southern, western, and northern districts, and therefore have recognised the need for more physicians with training in the clinical management of HIV/AIDS, including the collaboration of the private sector to increase accessibility, equity, and quality of service. These are the goals of the health sector reform."

    Errol Fairweather, Undergoing Anti-retroviral Treatment
    "When I found out I was HIV, a lot of things happened, my world stopped and I went into denial, which made it worse. I started doing a lot of things that I had gave up already--I had stopped doing. I had settled down, I planned on getting married and having a family finally in my life at the age I'm at. My world stopped and things started getting worse. Then I developed full-blown AIDS. I landed at the Southern Regional Hospital under the care of Dr. Kim and after a while she put me on medication and it wasn't working at first. It didn't work for a long time, and the reason it didn't work was not because it wasn't the right medication, it wasn't the doctor's fault. I didn't have the proper diet, I was taking vacations, partying, still drinking, doing things that was not right. And I just want to encourage each and every one of you here today and each and every one of the doctors here to get involved in this fight because there is hope, there is something that can be done. I can remember when the change came about in my life, when I decided I wanted to live and I didn't want to die no more and that I could live with this thing. And that's when I met Dr. Arriaga, in February of last year. And he gave me hope, the hope that I needed to make that change in my life."

    Topics being covered by the training sessions include identifying the early and advanced manifestations of HIV, evaluation and management of a client with HIV, factors involved when introducing anti-retroviral therapy, and management of HIV in pregnancy.

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    AIDS project for youth launched

    Ch 5:

    AIDS project for youth launched

    A programme to help prevent AIDS, particularly among vulnerable young people, was officially launched this morning. An agreement between the Organization of Petroleum Producing Countries, OPEC fund/the U.N.F.P.A., and the Government of Belize was signed in Belmopan at the George Price Centre. The government press office spoke with Hetty Sarjeant of the United Nations Population Fund.

    Hetty Sarjeant, U.N.F.P.A.
    "The agreement between OPEC and the U.N.F.P.A. was signed by our Executive Director, Thoraya Obaid towards the end of 2002, and she was largely responsible for accessing those funds. However, as you know, the project required much national consultations, so since early last year, February and March, we have been meeting with all the various government agencies, NGO's and so on to pull together what the people of Belize felt they wanted. Basically, we know that the migrant populations, they are populations that may not have access to sufficient services, so the project essentially is going to provide information, education, and services to young people with respect to the prevention of sexually transmitted infections, particularly the HIV/AIDS prevention. It's a three-year project. The total dollar amount is four hundred and fifty thousand U.S. dollars. However, U.N.F.P.A. is going to contribute in kind support, and the Government of Belize will also provide in kind support through provision of office space for the project coordinator and the time of some of their very valued officers."

    The project will utilise health services, NGOs, the ministries of National Development, Labour, Health, Education, and Tourism. Beneficiaries include young people between the ages of fifteen and twenty-four living with or affected by HIV/AIDS, commercial workers, migrant and mobile youth, National Cadet Corps members, prisoners, members of street gangs, pregnant young women, and single mothers."

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    HIV/AIDS workplace programme launched

    HIV/AIDS workplace programme launched

    It is not certain just how many people in the workforce have HIV and AIDS, but the deadly disease has mainly affected persons in the productive sector: that means young men and women between the ages of fifteen to forty-nine years old. Today, the Ministry of Labour and Local Government launched a workplace HIV/AIDS project that seeks to protect workers against the disease and to help companies to deal with cases on the job. The programme comes as a result of a Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Ministry of Human Development, Local Government and Labour, and the International Labour Organization in collaboration with the United States Department of Labour. Sheila Middleton is the project's national coordinator.

    Sheila Middleton, National Project Coordinator
    "We know that the target population that are being affected by HIV are the working force population, so this is the importance of this programme that we will be working with the workforce trying to prevent HIV/AIDS in the workplace and also putting education programmes. Ongoing education programmes, not only once a month you do something, but often people will be getting exposed to information and thus they will be able to reduce some of their risky behaviours."

    "What will happen is that we will do training at the top with the supervisors and the managers first, sensitisation so that they become more aware of the issue of HIV/AIDS. Then we will work directly with the employees of that selected company or government department. We will be instituting a peer education programme, behaviour change modification programme will also be a part of it. And also, they will have a selected committee within that company that will deal specifically with the whole issue of HIV/AIDS and they will be the ones that will say what are some of the things that they want. The first thing when we enter any company or government department, will be a survey to be done with the workers to see what their needs are and to see what level they know about the whole issue of HIV/AIDS."

    Middleton says because the project encourages companies to have workplace policies that include an HIV/AIDS plan of action, it will also address the problem of discrimination against persons living with the disease.

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    AIDS in Belize

    Ch 5:

    Misconceptions about HIV/AIDS prevail

    There are a lot of misconceptions about HIV and AIDS in Belize, and today the Ministry of Health, PAHO, and the National AIDS Commission attempted to set the record straight, particularly in terms of numbers. They presented a situational analysis to be used in the development of a new strategic plan. Jacqueline Woods reports from the Radisson.

    Jacqueline Woods, Reporting
    HIV/AIDS is among the ten leading causes of death in Belize. The startling statistics were announced at a presentation of the situation in the country, by Epidemiologist and Director of the National AIDS Programme, Doctor Paul Edwards.

    Dr. Paul Edwards, Director, National AIDS Programme
    "The statistics reported from the ending of 1986 until the end of September 2003 reports that there are a little bit more than two thousand, five hundred Belizeans living with HIV or AIDS. When we talk about the ratio, male to female at the start of the epidemic it was two males for every female. As we have said, there is a feminisation of the epidemic, there are more females being infected, and therefore those numbers are fastly approaching one male to every female."

    Those who are mostly affected are the productive and reproductive sectors, persons between the ages of fifteen and forty-nine years old.

    Dr. Paul Edwards
    "Fifteen through forty-nine for males represents that reproductive age group, that individual that male out there who is working, who is contributing to his household, and also contributing to the economic stability of this country. What happens when he falls ill, especially in environments whereby he is the sole breadwinner? And for females, they are also a part of that working force. And even more so important, they are in the reproductive age group. If they are HIV positive there is a possibility that their newborn can also be HIV positive and therefore the problem becomes even more complicated whereby we have orphans, whereby both of those parents would die, and even more so, orphans who are HIV Positive."

    Every twenty-four hours, a person living in Belize is diagnosed with HIV. Most of those patients contracted the virus through sexual activity. Another factor contributing to the epidemic is the abuse of alcohol, crack and cocaine that all lead to risky behaviour.

    According to Adele Catzim, an independent consultant with the Pan American Health Organization in Belize, the study also revealed that many women contracted the disease at home because of the myths and personal perceptions that still exist.

    Adele Catzim, Independent Consultant, PAHO
    "There's a woman who has got it and who cried for two hours, she just could not believe it. She is a good woman, she's never had an extramarital affair, and she is HIV positive. There's is another woman in the south of Belize who is convinced that her husband got it from a mosquito and that's how he passed it on to her. There's another woman whose husband told her that he has been cured by a herbalist and she wants to know, she's HIV negative, but she wants to know if she can go back to her husband now because he's been cured by the herbalist."

    The situation analysis report will be used to help Belize access the World Health organizations 3 by 5 initiative that will allow three million living with the disease in developing countries to access anti-retroviral medication by 2005.

    Dr. Kathleen Israel, PAHO/WHO Representative, Belize
    "Belize is already on the list of countries targeted for the 3 by 5 initiative. As a matter of fact, all developing countries are. At the local level, what we need to do make an assessment of the number of people who are HIV positive and who actually have the disease AIDS. And with that assessment we will communicate to the PAHO regional office in Washington and they will get the Geneva office involved. Now once that is done, an assessment will be made of the needs of Belize for anti-retroviral therapy and resources are being made available from different funding agencies through PAHO and WHO that is going to trickle down to Belize."

    Dr. Edwards says he is very concerned about the situation, but believes it will take heightened responsibility from every Belizean for the number of infected persons to decrease.

    Dr. Paul Edwards
    "Individual responsibility. Change your behaviour, for those numbers to start decreasing in our country. We need for people to go and get their HIV status known. Know your status, if your HIV negative to put mechanisms in your life to remain HIV negative. For those who are positive, to access the care and counselling that is there, to learn about your nutritional status, to learn about your CD4 level, to learn about what are the medications we are using, what are the side effects, so that when you get to that stage of being full-blown AIDS you are prepared and you will adhere to taking that medication to prevent resistance and the overall will be there whereby you can increase your quality and your quantity of life. That is what we are offering, we're inviting every Belizean to get your status known."

    For persons interested in knowing their status, a voluntary testing and counselling centre is located at the Cleopatra White Health Centre. At the centre you can also find out how you can access free anti-retroviral drugs. Jacqueline Woods for News 5.

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    bump

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    CONCERN ABOUT RISING HIV CASES AS BELIZE CELEBRATES WORLD AIDS DAY

    Today, December 1st marks World Aids Day and National AIDS Commission held a campaign to encourage behavioral change among young people. The Commission targeted the 15-24 year old age group because statistics show this sub-group has the highest incidents of HIV Infection, almost twice as much as the general population. Eleven schools across the city gathered at the bliss today where they were sensitized through dramatic presentations and pep talks. Dr. Cuellar, Executive Director of The National Aids Commission told us more:
    Dr. Martin Cuellar, Executive Director of The National Aids Commission
    "What we are doing is we are using behavior change methodologies because we want to make sure that we increases the chances that the young people who are coming to the rallies can actually take away something specific that will assist in proving their own self protection and so the rallies are design to include interactive activities, poems, different form of artistic expressions and for them hearing from peers and other young people like themselves with messages that we are giving in a way to make them more poignant, the idea is that by the end of each of the rallies, all of the young people will take an actual pledge to commit to increasing their own personal protection."

    Andrea Polanco
    "So you have a particular message that you are sending out here today?"

    Dr. Martin Cuellar, Executive Director of The National Aids Commission
    "Yes and the message we are sending today is that we want young people to think more positively about sex because we are convince that where they think more positively then they will develop a more positive attitude and that translate to much more protection, and the second message that we are sending is we are asking young people to make sure that they develop a specific personal plan for protecting themselves against sexually transmitted infections and today here and all the rallies we are stressing that there are several ways that young people can develop this plan, it can include consistent and proper condom usage but it can certainly include abstinence or delay sexual initiation as well as serial monogamy."

    The rally was designed a part of a long-term series of activities to reach out to young people across the country. The Commission says that a documentary put together from all the rallies held country wide today will be released and used in the 2011 campaign.

  14. #14
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    HIV Infections Down

    The National HIV Report for 2010 has been released and it shows a decrease in the number of reported infections for the second year in a row.
    There was a 33.8% reduction in new infections for 2010 - making it the first time since the year 2000 that there are fewer than 250 new infections reported in a single year.

    Of that 244 new infections for 2010 the key age groups most affected remain those between 20-49 years of age with the highest number of infections seen in those between 25 and 29 years old.

    And Stann Creek no longer holds the dubious distinction of the greatest number of new infections; Belize and Cayo are now numbers one and two, respectively.

    As for the cases of full blown AIDS, there were 81 with the greatest number of cases again falling within that key age group: those between 25 and 29.

    In 2010, 106 deaths were linked to HIV and AIDS; 74 of them were men - a third of them from the Belize district.

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    Belize HIV/AIDS infection rate down 33%


    Belize has shown a 33 per cent decrease in the number of new HIV/AIDS infections, and the mother-to-child transmission rate is presently less than six per cent even; though Belize has the highest prevalence rate of HlV in Central America and one of the highest in the Caribbean, Minister of Health, Hon. Pablo Marin informed a high level meeting of the United Nations General Assembly in New York last Wednesday to Friday, June 8-10
    The central purpose of the meeting was to review the progress achieved on the 2006 Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS. Provisions were also made to guide and intensify the global response to HIV and AIDS by promoting continued political commitment and engaging leaders to respond at community, local, national, regional and international levels to halt and reverse the HIV epidemic and mitigate its impact.
    Marin said the Government of Belize has scaled up its treatment plans to meet complete universal access by 2015. The government is now able to cover about 70 percent of those requiring care.
    UN member states pledged to increase global treatment, care, and support, implement various new and innovative preventative approaches, and continue to advance human rights, reduce stigma, discrimination and violence. The meeting closed with participants committed to move forward by redoubling efforts to achieve by 2015, all the Millennium Development Goals by providing universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support with the goal to ending the global HIV epidemic.
    It was noted in the meeting that despite substantial progress over three decades since AIDS was first reported, the HIV epidemic remains an unprecedented human catastrophe inflicting immense suffering on countries, communities and families throughout the world. At present, more than 30 million people have died from AIDS, with another estimated 33 million people living with HIV and more than 16 million children orphaned because of AIDS. Furthermore, more than 7,000 new HIV infections occur daily, mostly among people in low and middle-income countries
    The participants at the meeting recognized that HIV and AIDS constitute a global emergency and pose one of the most formidable challenges to the development, progress and stability of respective societies and the world at large.
    Funding to fight the global HIV epidemic has increased eightfold from $1.8 billion in 2001 to $16 billion in 20l0, as a result of the worldwide commitment since the 2001 Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS and the 2006 Political on HIV/AIDS. This represents the largest amount dedicated to combating a single disease in history, but despite such extraordinary efforts, global funding devoted to HIV and AIDS response still does not measure up to the magnitude of the epidemic either at the national or international level.
    The global financial and economic crises continues to have a negative impact on the anti-AIDS response at all levels, including the fact that for the first time, international assistance did not increase from 2008 - 2009 levels.
    Health Minister Pablo Marin and Special Envoy to Belize for Women and Children, Mrs. Kim Simpliss-Barrow led the seven-member delegation which represented Belize at the meeting.
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