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December 1st is globally designated as World AIDS Day. This year officials are commemorating efforts to reduce the epidemic under the message “Take the challenge, End AIDS”. Free testing was conducted in various parts of the country as national health officials promote testing and counselling.


Director of Health Services, Dr. Marvin Manzanero, has been keeping an eye on the cases of HIV/AIDS in Belize. He indicated that the most recent statistics he has seen in June show that the prevalence of the sexually-transmitted disease is affecting both genders equally.


Screen_Shot_2016-12-01_at_7.58.54_PMDr. Marvin Manzanero - Director of Health Services


“The numbers are basically going to be the same as in the previous three or four years, no really increase, no rally increase, half of those that were tested positive at the end of June were men, half were women so there is any change seems to be that the total number of women is equally in the same number of men and the rates that we were having in previous years were a little bit different where rates were higher in men, we won’t be able to calculate the rate until the end of the year but the numbers haven’t really changed as opposed to the last two or three years.”

 

Reporter


“Do you expect that efforts to test will continue?”


Dr. Marvin Manzanero - Director of Health Services


“Will continue, we are looking at a notion of opening beyond the traditionally 8-5 I know that we are probably pilot testing that in Belize City and that is because of a specific request coming from certain populations, we may also be testing more men and trying to do more innovative strategies to see how we can ling to those men that may be potentially exposed.”


Dr. Manzanero also discussed the effect of many years of leading a campaign against HIV/AIDS in Belize. He said there are several challenges that impact the success of the campaign and that a new approach is needed to get the message to work effectively. He also expressed concern that a number of regional partners were suspending their efforts in the fight.


Dr. Marvin Manzanero - Director of Health Services


“You are right in that we have been giving the condom message for example trying to make the bridge to more exposed populations but it just doesn’t seem that we are able to make that final leap, so we will have to find creative ways to find people to use condoms more, trying to get the more at risk population to be more in sync with our prevention strategies, so we will have to get more creative as we go along. Human resources and finances will be a challenge as well for us from the Ministry of Health and particularly when you look at other sectors outside of health that are no longer actively involved in the responds, USAID has kind of pulled out, PASMO has pulled out so all those effort and those NGO’s were doing will really have to fall now under the ministry of health and it is a concern because that is not normally the task that we are concentrated but it is something that we have to now pick up.”

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