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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
Los Angeles has the highest AIDS rate in the United States. So I would try to keep my goods to myself everywhere I go. You never know who has AIDS and who doesn't.
Really, I thought San Francisco had more cases. I mean percentage wise by city.
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.
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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.
Teachers learn to deal with AIDS
It’s the middle of the summer holidays, but somebody forgot to tell a group of primary school teachers, who we found still working hard in the classroom. The over one hundred and twenty educators that are this week taking part in a three day workshop, are not just improving their skills in multi grade teaching, and subjects such as social studies, language arts, and music. According to Health and Family Life Coordinator with the Ministry of Education, Yvonne Codd, the teachers are also being instructed on how to deal with HIV and AIDS in the workplace.
Yvonne Codd, Health & Family Life Coordinator
“The purpose of the HIV/AIDS component is to have teachers become aware of what is happening out there in regards to the high prevalence of HIV/AIDS in Belize. Have them be able to overcome fears of stigma and discrimination against children and colleagues affected with HIV/AIDS and other persons living out there in the community.”
“Right now we are looking at putting together a policy that is a health and family life policy. And under this health and policy life policy will come HIV/AIDS as a component. After the policy has been developed and signed by the ministers of government, then we will look at revising the curriculum to suit the needs of teaching methodologies in schools.”
“When we look at health and family life education we are not only looking at HIV/AIDS, we are looking at physical education, we are looking at the nutritional aspect and we are looking at life skills--we are looking at them knowing how to take care of persons living with AIDS in regards to care and attention that would be needed.”
“When you look at physical education we are looking at the practical part also where they will be able to be exposed to what is the right way from the wrong way of doing different techniques in regards to the areas we are dealing with which are track and field, softball, and football for these three days.”
Codd says similar teacher training workshops are scheduled in the districts next month. The workshop, which ends on Wednesday at the Edward P. York High school in Belize City, is coordinated by the Quality Assurance and Development Service of the Ministry of Education.
Taking HIV/AIDS Education to the Streets
We've heard from the technocrats and health professionals about the solution to Belize's HIV/Aids problem. But is all that talk working? Well, the numbers show that the problem is only getting worse. But now, new approach coordinated by the Red Cross and funded by UNICEF is taking the message of HIV/Aids straight to the streets. Here's how.
Keith Swift Reporting,
Sitting under the banner "Together We Can" are the newest foot soldiers in Belize's battle against HIV and Aids. For the next three days these youths from the city's south side are participating in the Red Cross' HIV peer education program. And national trainer Sherie Murillo says these youths may be the best offensive in the battle against Aids.
Sherie Murillo, Red Cross National Trainer
“I just believe that the youths out there in the community would rather listen to their friends rather than listen to maybe a 40 year old person. They would love to play these games and activities with their friends rather than being in a classroom setting where you have obligations to certain things.”
And the program just might work because in-training instructors like Keith Lemoth from Youth for the Future and Keisha Murillo from Port Loyola both say they are ready to head back into their enclave with the knowledge about HIV and Aids. And for Keisha it’s very important because she says her peers hunger for more info on HIV and Aids.
Keisha Murillo, Trainee
“Some of my friends feel like they don’t have the right to talk about their feelings and some of them don’t have good education. And then the schools don’t teach more about HIV and AIDS.”
Keith Lemoth, Trainee
“I think this training will leave me with one a personal experience of how to address certain youths that might come to you seeking assistance and also the knowledge I can gain will also help prepare my personal children if I have any as to how they can go about to live a more safer life.”
“They have several activities planned out for us but immediately we are going to basically try to work with at risk youths in the community.”
But before they get back into their communities, these peer educators will have to finish the training.
Sherie Murillo, Red Cross National Trainer
“We’re conducting a training workshop training individuals to be certified instructor trainers. These individuals are going to be trained for three days. They will have to do a teach back assessment and also a post test for them to be certified as a instructor trainer. After the three day training they will train a set of peer educator who range in age from 14 to 19 from the South side of Belize City. These peer educators will have to go out into the south side and train.”
And as the training continues the organizers hope that together youths can prevent the HIV pandemic.
The training for these instructors ends on Wednesday. A team of peer educators will be trained from Thursday through to Saturday. The "Together We Can” initiative was introduced in Belize in January. For a comparative analysis it has been doing well in Jamaica for the past 10 years.
Nutrition Handbook for People living with HIV/AIDS to be launched
29 July, 2004 - Belmopan
The Ministry of Health in collaboration with the Pan American Health
Organization (PAHO) and the Caribbean Food and Nutrition Institute will
introduce the publication “”Healthy Eating for Better Living, A
Caribbean Handbook” on Tuesday August 3 at 8:30 a.m. at the Belize
Institute of Management in Belize City.
The publication was developed by the Caribbean Food and Nutrition
Institute to provide caregivers and People Living with HIV and AIDS the
basic nutritional information needed to improve their quality of life.
HIV/AIDS can take a tremendous toll on the bodies of persons affected.
Since there is not yet a cure for the disease, good nutritional support
can help to extend life and help to ensure that it is of greater
quality. Also as anti-retrovirals become more accessible to Belizeans
living with the disease, it is important that the medication be combined
with good nutrition in order to encourage adherence to the drugs.
The handbook provides basic information on nutrition for everyone. It is
designed to provide people living with HIV/AIDS accurate, up-to-date
information about healthy diets. It includes a special section on how to
cope with problems related to the disease and a section that deals
specifically with infants and children living with HIV/AIDS. A workshop
immediately following the launch will provide training on the use of
New cookbook adds flavour to fight against AIDS
With more and more Belizeans dealing with the frightening reality of testing positive, analysts say the HIV/AIDS situation in Belize will probably get worse before it gets better. Today, the Ministry of Health, in collaboration with the Pan American Health Organization and the Caribbean Food and Nutrition Institute introduced the Caribbean Handbook: "Healthy Eating for Better Living". The book was developed by C.F.N.I. to provide caregivers and people living with HIV/AIDS with basic nutritional information. According to director of the National AIDS Programme Dr. Paul Edwards, the book is a valuable tool in Belize's campaign against the deadly disease.
Dr. Paul Edwards, Dir., National AIDS Programme
“What it does, it takes Caribbean recipes and certainly recipes that are pertinent to Belize, all the food that we can obtain here to provide the very best nutritional value to that individual who is living with HIV or AIDS.”
“Who is this book intended for?”
Dr. Paul Edwards
“This book is certainly intended for our health care providers who will share with that information to our individuals who are living with the disease and also for those individuals who are living with the disease who are capable of reading that book and then applying what is in there to their lives so that they can benefit from a good nutritional support.”
“What would you say to people who are sceptical that this could work, it’s a new arsenal in the fight against AIDS what would you say to those people?”
Dr. Paul Edwards
“Scepticism? I have living human proof here. And I am certain that Errol could share with you when he was diagnosed with aids, he was down to a hundred and almost twenty-five pounds and look at him now, with medication and with a good nutritional support. And I am aware of that because when we are at meetings with him he goes, Dr. Edwards I need to eat now or I can’t eat because I am supposed to take my medication on empty stomach. Now he is taking a regimen whereby he can eat and take that medication. And there is living proof that nutrition and taking the medication as indicated by a doctor, works.”
Edwards says that a hundred copies of the handbook were supplied to the Ministry of Health for distribution to health care providers and persons infected and affected by HIV/AIDS. Close to fifty individuals who work in response to HIV/AIDS in Belize are this week taking part in a three day workshop, to familiarize them with the information in the handbook, so that they in turn can pass that information on to people who visit the Voluntary Counselling and Testing centres and other sites countrywide. In related news, Edwards says that there are currently one hundred and thirty-five Belizeans on full anti-retroviral medication treatment. In 2003, G.O.B. acquired enough medication to make treatment available to two hundred infected persons. If you would like to find out your HIV status, you are asked to contact any of the Voluntary Counselling and Testing centres.
It's good to be with people you can trust, Find Cookiegirl and ask her for a close tour of her area's. Stay away from the other girls, we want you to have a safe return free of pathogenic substance.
OPEC Funds HIV Education for 'At Risk' Youths
The HIV/AIDS statistics for the second quarter of this year are about to be released and, again the news is not good. Preliminary figures from the Ministry of Health, which have yet to be formally released, say that between April and June of 2004 there were 132 reported new infections of HIV which is 35 more than was reported between January and March. The death toll from AIDS also rose to 29 compared to 17 in the previous quarter. By our math, the tally so far for 2004 is 229 new HIV infections and 46 deaths. And those same figures show that Belizeans between ages 20 to 24 are most affected. One organization that's doing something about it is Youth for the Future along with partners at Belize Family Life Association. They will share $1 million grant from the OPEC fund for HIV/AIDS prevention among youths. Keith Swift reports on how Youth for the Future plans to use their share.
Keith Swift Reporting,
The grant is aimed at what they describe as youths in “difficult circumstances” which is where youth for the future comes in.
Mark Cargill, Ministry of Health
“Its hard to reach those youths in difficult circumstances with no jobs so hopefully with this program by educating them we can uplift them and we are also doing a peer to peer education where we can train one youth and he can go out into his community and train another youth in HIV/AIDS prevention.”
“The project is going to be executed by each implementing agency. They are developing a work plan with specific projects to reach the out of school youths in terms of any different objective that organization is doing will be implemented into the plan. For example Youth for the Future has a project that they are going out and meeting the youths who are out of school and basically we are implementing that project and educating them on HIV/AIDS prevention.”
And Youth for the Future’s part of the project will be implemented through a joint partnership with the police. Today Commissioner of Police Jose Zetina and Youth for the Future’s Nuri Muhammad formalized their partnership when they both signed on the dotted line pledging to work together
Nuri Muhammad, Exec. Dir. Youth for the Future
“These young are not only involved in crime or negative behavior. Their at risk as we see from the statistic for HIV and AIDS infection and much of the information and the strategy for informing these youths have not proven to be very effective. Youth for the Future has developed a effective communication strategy with this youths and we are merely now expanding from trying to impact their behavior with crime to also impact their behavior with negative sexual activity.”
Q: How does the police come into play? What part will the police play?
Jose Zetina, Commissioner of Police
“Well we don’t have anything to do another provide whatever assistance we can do. As you can do we agreed and we signed a memorandum of understand and that’s basically what we are doing because the two of us are working together.”
The grant for all agencies involved is being managed through the Ministry of Health.
There's also the ones that contracts AIDS from non-sexual encounters. What about the babies that contracts AIDS from the very hospitals that they go to for treatment, anyone who requires blood tranfusions. It's sad and you just have to be alert and consciously aware, at all times. I never understood how tainted blood could even enter the hospital premises, in the first place.