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Amandala Newspaper Headline Crime Politics Sports Editorial Publisher Letters Features General Regional International 4,035 Belize HIV cases reported since 1986

National statistics indicate that the number of HIV cases spiked for the second quarter in 2007, with 137 new cases reported between April and June, 100 of them being in the Belize District – 54 men and 46 women.
 
This brings the total number of HIV infections reported in Belize since 1986 to 4,035.
 
“It shows that we have a continuing serious situation,” said chairperson of the National AIDS Commission, Dolores Balderamos-Garcia, adding that there is no room for complacency.
 
She told our newspaper, however, that the average number of new infections per quarter has been between 120 and 130, so while there appears to be a spike when the last quarter’s data are compared against data for the same quarter last year – when only 70 new HIV cases were reported, the data should really be interpreted over an extended period.
 
Dr. Marvin Manzanero, director of the National TB, HIV/AIDS and other STI’s program in the Ministry of Health, informed us that in the 1st quarter of 2006 there were 131 new HIV cases. During the last quarter of 2006 there were 120, and in the second quarter of 2005, 127 new cases were reported.
 
Health authorities explain that the data are mostly drawn from public health care facilities, but also include confirmation tests from private facilities, which are done at the Central Medical Laboratory.
 
Balderamos-Garcia notes that the country should continue to see high figures as the extent of the epidemic in Belize unfolds.
 
“We have to continue to say it is a serious situation,” she affirmed.
 
Health authorities maintain that Belize has one of the highest HIV prevalence rates in the region, ranking among the highest in Caribbean and even ahead of other countries in Central America.
 
Since 1986, Belize has reported 822 AIDS cases, with 10 of those cases registered between April and June this year. To date 724 people have reportedly died from the virus in Belize, according to official data.
 
Treatment is available for people living with HIV/AIDS. Balderamos-Garcia said that there is the need to emphasize that AIDS patients currently on antiretroviral medication have to follow their medication regimen 100% of the time for it to work, and starting and stopping treatment does not help.
 
She informed that roughly 500 persons, including 60 plus children, are on anti-retroviral treatment through the public health centers.
 
Another program that the Ministry of Health has been promoting is the Mother to Child Transmission Program, under which pregnant mothers are encouraged to get tested to know their HIV status, and to take the necessary precautions to prevent the transmission of the virus to their unborn child.
 
Manzanero said that some of the increased positives in HIV testing data could be attributed to an increase in testing of pregnant women.
 
That program, said Balderamos-Garcia, has been successful and it has reached over 90% of women who access the public health care system.