87.5 F
Charlotte Amalie
Thursday, July 7, 2022


A two-day conference aimed at sizing up the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the Virgin Islands and the Caribbean region revealed new information about who is affected by the disease and how rapidly it has spread.
Dr. Cora Christian of the VI Medical Institute, one o several speakers, noted a dramatic increase in instances of the disease over the last 20 years.
"Full-blown AIDS cases have risen from eight cases in 1983 to over 400 cases in 1999," she said.
Of the new cases, 72 percent affected males and 28 percent females.
The Virgin Islands case rate is almost twice the national average, speakers said, quoting National Institutes of Health figures. Figures through June 1999 show the V.I. ranks fifth in the nation in incidence of AIDS cases per capita.
Christian called on Virgin Islanders to face the facts about the disease and its victims, and at the same time to promote safe sex.
"We need to develop a view of the disease that helps solve the problem, rather than treating its victims like lepers," she said.
St. Thomas, she said, with 49 percent of the population, has 62 percent of
active AIDS cases, but St. Croix has 70 percent of the teenagers with HIV/AIDS.
Participants, including health care workers, government leaders, educators and religious leaders, heard that denial about AIDS is still commonplace among those who are most affected by it.
The conference, called "Heightening Awareness of HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean Region," was held at the Wyndham Sugar Bay Resort. Other speakers included Health Commissioner Wilbur Callender, Delegate to Congress Donna Christian-Christiansen and Sen. Allie-Allison Petrus.
The morning sessions were beamed via satellite from St. Thomas to other Caribbean islands including Barbados, Bahamas, and Trinidad. where similar conferences are being held. More than 2,000 persons registered at the conference in all locations. On St. Thomas, about 650 persons were registered by midday Thursday.
Rounding out the day's speakers on Friday was a well-known St. Croix physician, Dr. Olaf "Bronco" Hendricks.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.

Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.




Comments Box SVG iconsUsed for the like, share, comment, and reaction icons
This message is only visible to admins.
Problem displaying Facebook posts.
Error: Server configuration issue