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2005 – HIV estimated prevalence rate of 4.1 per cent in male inmates

2005 – HIV estimated prevalence rate of 4.1 per cent in male inmates

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Incarcerated males in St Vincent and the Grenadines who engage in unprotected sexual activity amongst themselves are more likely to contract HIV than any other group here.

Epidemiologist in the Ministry of Health Wellness and the Environment, Dr Rosmond Adams said on Wednesday during a press conference {{more}}that an HIV Seroprevalence Study done among male prisoners here in 2005 showed that this key population had an HIV estimated prevalence rate of 4.1 per cent.

Seroprevalence is the number of persons in a population who test positive for a specific disease based on serology (blood serum) specimens; often presented as a percent of the total specimens tested or as a proportion per 100,000 persons tested.

At the time of the survey in 2005, half of the HIV positive inmates had been incarcerated for less than six months.

“…. it’s important to note this, so in less than six months [after] they were incarcerated and they were positive and the remainder for less than two years. The mean age of these inmates was 30 years so these are young people being affected by the virus,” said Dr Adams.

He said that these key populations (also referred to as most-at-risk populations, people who inject drugs, gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM), transgender persons and sex workers) have experienced a dis-proportionate share of the HIV burden here.

The Epidemiologist revealed that ‘A mode of transmission study’ was conducted in Jamaica and it estimated that 32 per cent of new infections occur among MSM (men having sex with men), seven per cent among female partners of MSM’s and 10 per cent among female sex workers, their clients and partners of sex worker clients.

“So this data is very important, it is now showing us what areas we have to tackle in cutting or fighting against this epidemic,” said Dr Adams who stressed that focus has to be placed on key populations in order to decrease the overall prevalence of HIV/AIDS.

“It is important that us in the Ministry recognize the need to address issues that affect key populations including their knowledge, practices relating to HIV and in addition their ability to access health care services because if they cannot access health care services then the prevalence, the incidents and new cases will increase.”

He said that while HIV/AIDS prevalence is greater among key populations in the region, the virus is also dispersed in the general population (1 per cent) in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

“In St Vincent and the Grenadines there is no exception, the prevalence among the key populations is also higher and so the epidemic of HIV that we have known for a long while has transformed from what we have called a generalized epidemic to one that is concentrated where the prevalence is higher among what we call the key population,” said Dr Adams.

He said that the prevalence rate among MSM’s is the highest documented rates in the world and is extremely high when compared to the general population rates.

“A comprehensive review by the UN on HIV disease burden among MSM worldwide found a pooled HIV prevalence range from as low as three per cent in the Middle East and North America to 25 per cent in the Caribbean, so this is showing you the inequality in the distribution of the prevalence across the different regions.”

The earliest known case of infection with HIV-1 in a human was detected in a blood sample collected in 1959 from a man in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo. (How he became infected is not known.) Genetic analysis of this blood sample suggested that HIV-1 may have stemmed from a single virus in the late 1940s or early 1950s.

Since the beginning of the epidemic, almost 78 million people have been infected with the HIV virus and about 39 million people have died of HIV. Globally, between 33.2 million and 37.2 million people were living with HIV at the end of 2013.

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