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More females testing positive for HIV

By Marlene Augustine Wednesday, March 16 2016

TEENAGE girls and young women between the ages of 15 and 24 account for the majority of new HIV cases globally, regionally and in Trinidad and Tobago, according to the Ministry of Social Development and Family Services Permanent Secretary (PS), Jacinta Bailey-Sobers.

“The HIV epidemic is becoming increasingly feminised; it reveals that globally, regionally, and in Trinidad and Tobago, the face of HIV has become young and female,” she said. Bailey-Sobers was speaking yesterday at an HIV Symposium in commemoration of International Women’s Day held at City Hall, Knox Street, Port-of- Spain.

She explained that local national statistics on HIV/AIDS indicate that women account for 45 percent of HIV cases; 70 percent of new infections in the age group 15 to 24, and 70 percent of all new infections in persons between the age group of 15 and 24 are females.

However, she encouraged her audience that while HIV is no longer a death sentence, it still is a condition that affect’s one’s entire life. Bailey-Sobers indicated that the initiative by the HIV Unit must be applauded, as it continues to demonstrate the understanding of the important role a woman plays in society.

“I am told this symposium is designed to educate you on both a personal and a professional level, on the topic of gender disparity, and how it encourages the vulnerability of women; and increases the risk of contracting HIV and other sexually-transmitted diseases,” she said. She said this year’s theme “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up For Gender Equality” also recognises that the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainability Development cannot be achieved without full and equal rights for half of the world’s population, women, in both law and in practice.

According to data from the HIV/AIDS Unit in the Ministry of Health, the majority of persons testing for HIV/AIDS are women.

Also speaking at the symposium, Ann Marie Libert De Four in the Ministry of Health emphasised that stigmatisation and discrimination cause women not to access routine health services and HIV testing out of fear of victimisation.

“We have a lot of young women and young people who prefer for young people to talk to them, hence the reason for peer education training. We have a lot of young females who do not want to go to the health centres because they may see health care providers who they feel would not understand when they are going through,” De Four said.

While there are more women testing, De Four indicated men sometimes get tested when they visit hospitals to do regular procedures.



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