AIDS in Belize

Ch 5:

Counselling classes to improve HIV testing services
As any doctor or educator will tell you, getting an HIV test is easy but things get tricky when the results are out. That’s why it’s so very important for anyone taking an HIV test to receive counselling before giving blood and after it has been analysed. The idea is that people who are negative need to know how to keep it that way and those who test positive need to know what to do next. With that in mind, the University of Belize has teamed up with a sister school to train students, doctors and nurses how to talk to patients about HIV. News Five’s Kendra Griffith reports.

Kendra Griffith
The National AIDS Programme reports that in 2007 fourteen thousand Belizeans went under the needle to take an HIV test. And while efforts to have everyone else know their status are ongoing ... so too is the campaign to train more people to provide voluntary counselling and testing services.

Petula Lee, HIV/VCT Training Coordinator, JHPIEGO
“A lot of us don’t know about HIV until it comes knocking at our door. There is no reason to find out because my sex is my sex and my sex is always good. So it’s only your sex that isn’t good and my neighbour’s sex, but my life is perfect. So until HIV comes knocking at our door, we don’t know and even doctors and nurses don’t have as much information as they should.”

In 2007, the University of Belize took up the VCT torch and began conducting training seminars for medical personnel and its staff.

Dr. Shirlene Smith-Augustine, Dean, Nursing/Allied Health and Social Work
“In our first workshop that was held in May we had twenty-two participants. Sixteen of those were faculty members at the University of Belize. We subsequently held a training in November of last year for clinical trainers and we trained six faculty members as well to become trainers for the VCT and today we have culminated two weeks of training with thirty-one participants as VCT providers, as well as the six trainers have qualified as clinical trainers as well.”

Petula Lee
“An HIV test changes your entire life, so therefore you need to know the implications of being tested HIV positive. You need to know also, if you are negative, what do you do to protect yourself from becoming positive.”

Facilitating this week’s workshop is Petula Lee of JHPIEGO, an affiliate of John Hopkins University in the United States. The organisation has conducted similar training in sixteen other countries throughout the Caribbean.

Petula Lee
“They learn how to pre and post test counsel clients coming in for HIV testing. We did quite a bit of stigma and discrimination, how to deal with it, how to not stigmatize and discriminate. We learnt basic counselling skills, we learnt to role play. They have all qualified as VCT providers, so we expect that they will go back to their districts and clinics and their clinics really empathise with clients coming in and guide them.”

Natalia Gallego, Nurse
“I’m Natalie Shawn Gallego, I am a practical nurse here at Cleopatra White.”

Natalie Gallego is one of six nurses from the Cleopatra White Health Centre who were trained.

Natalie Gallego
“We have a lot of persons who go to do tests and its mainly done by the doctors, the counselling sessions, and sometimes the nurses get an opportunity. So it’s very good that we got the skills now we can set ourselves aside with the client and be more thorough with them with a counselling session. The main one is to focus mostly on the behavioural changes that persons need to do. We the nurses will help to plan out with the said client ways in which to lower their risk of getting HIV infection.”

This evening, the participants received their certificates signifying their qualification as VCT providers. Among the group is Bernadette Smith-Flowers, a rural health nurse servicing Double Head Cabbage and seven other villages in the vicinity.

Bernadette Smith-Flowers, Rural Health
“With this training now will just help us to be more qualified in that area in reaching out in the right capacity of what we should have been doing. They would ask about how could I get a test done and we had to refer them to Belize City at the VCT centre and there will be a difference now because with this they could get it right at home.”

While the training assists the Ministry of Health with its plans to eventually phase out VCT centres and integrate the service into the general health sector, according to Dr. Shirlene Smith-Augustine, Dean at the Faculty of Nursing, Allied Health and Social Work, the seminars are part of a larger goal by the university to establish a national training centre.

Dr. Shirlene Smith-Augustine
“We are the national university and part of our mandate is to provide relevant training based on national needs. HIV and AIDS remain an important issue in our country and as the national university we need to be able to respond to that need and one of the way to do that is for us to be able to offer training to our community, locally, globally and even regionally and ultimately for the university to be identified as the national training unit.”

Similar training sessions are planned for the future. Kendra Griffith reporting for News Five.

The seminars were done in collaboration
Ch 5:

Telemedia donates to help HIV support groups

Ask any N.G.O. and they will tell you that donations are a necessity for them to carry out their work. Today one organisation was lucky to be on the receiving end of three thousand dollars from Belize Telemedia Limited. The funds were donated to the Alliance Against AIDS and according to Executive Director, Rodel Beltran Perera, will go towards a support group for persons living with HIV.

Rodel Beltran Perera, Executive Director, Alliance Against AIDS
“Positive Lives was formed about three years ago and it is a group of persons living with the virus or suffering from the disease and their families, family members. And came together and started supporting each other. They have grown. They have grown in the discussion of their issues that affect them, but they have also grown in numbers. Sad to say, still we’re challenged of them being very clandestine and that is because of non-acceptance and the resistance and all the stigma discrimination. We hope to change that some day. But they meet regularly and speak about themselves, about what they are going through, about their experiences.”

Linette Canto, PR Executive, Telemedia
“The funds were allocated through our customer satisfaction survey. For every person who participated in the survey, we decided that we would give a dollar to a non-profit organisation. Over two thousand people participated, so we rounded it off and we came up with the figure of three thousand dollars which we have contributed.”

Perera says three other support groups have been established for persons living with HIV, located at Hattieville Prison, in Dangriga, and San Ignacio.
Ch 7: At Risk Youths Attack the Stigma

The fight to end stigma and discrimination against persons living with HIV and Aids continued today in Belize City where sixty at-risk youths gathered for one day to arm themselves with information on what they can do to protect themselves and help others living with Aids and HIV. According to Eckert Middleton, manager of the HIV and Aids Education Unit at Youth for the Future, they’re not asking these kids to save the world, just to show a little kindness.

Eckert Middleton, HIV/Aids Education Unit – YFF
“How a kiss on the cheek, playing basketball with somebody who is HIV positive will not put you at risk and in society sometimes having that information is not enough. They need to have a cultural change and an outlook on how people are living with the virus and a personal evaluation of themselves to realize that everybody is at risk but you’re only at risk when you engage in sex with someone who is positive and doesn’t use protection.

What we’re aiming for us to educate them of why people discriminate, what are the consequences of discriminating against someone, and giving them the information so that they can make some changes; change your behaviour, understand that they themselves could be in that position in the future and learn how to cope with it, learn how to treat people with respect, treat themselves with respect so that life could be much easier for everybody if respect is key.”

Middleton says they will continue to challenge all young persons especially those in difficult circumstances. The plan is to hold similar workshops in Cayo and Dangriga. The workshop is sponsored by the Global Fund Project and coordinated by Youth for the Future.
they need to offer mandatory sex ed classes in belize...young people need somewhere free and confidential were they can go to for whatever(condoms, tests, talk)...unfortunately se x is still a taboo subject to talk about.
mellowman said:
Reply: Yeah but eventhough you are preaching, you still contracted Herpes....

Me heah you get bigsore dah your mouth corner every winter...

Such a hypocrit snook mouth niggah you!:puke :puke :puke :puke

You gat dem sorey looking swell up liva lips and yu di tak? oh do....yu whole face dah one big herpes.....bamsideh!!!!!
cayogial21 said:
they need to offer mandatory sex ed classes in belize...young people need somewhere free and confidential were they can go to for whatever(condoms, tests, talk)...unfortunately se x is still a taboo subject to talk about.

There are places that offer free testing, counselling, condoms & lube. But many people in Belize are embarrassed to admit that they are having sex, much less admit that they may be pregnant, or may have an STD.
Ch 5:

P.G. women build awareness about HIV/AIDS
With HIV/AIDS reaching epidemic proportions, the Alliance Against AIDS has been working around the clock to promote awareness. One organisation that is doing its share to keep the disease under raps is Maya Women’s Council from Toledo, the district that has the lowest percentage of the deadly disease. The group, led by Senator Pulcheria Teul, visited AAA’s office in Belize City this afternoon to get information on HIV/AIDS.

Oneyda Flores
“What is the level of participation that Alliance Against AIDS has with the Maya Women’s Council?”

Rodel Beltran Perera, Exec. Dir., Alliance Against AIDS
“We’re very supportive of the TMWC. We have been working with the TMWC for a while now especially in the area of education. We’ve begun with educating the leaders of the group. I think that recently we had a training workshop and so we’re working first with those women that can do the work in their communities.”

Senator Pulcheria Teul, Maya Women’s Council
“What we want to say to other women in this country is that we’re looking out for opportunities to work with them and it doesn’t matter what area that is. The Maya women we know are far out of reach; access to communication, information is very limited in the Toledo district and we believe that this is a good opportunity for them to grasp the different opportunities to information.”

Oneyda Flores
“Currently, what resources does the Toledo community have or Maya community has in regard to HIV/AIDS awareness?”

Senator Pulcheria Teul
“There’s very little, very little in the sense that the Ministry of Health provides information but not in a detailed manner. We are looking forward to do workshops with women in the community and not just a one hour presentation. We want this to become programme; an education programme for women, for youth, for men in the communities so that HIV cases can be prevented.”

The materials provided included educational posters, pamphlets, along with male and female condoms. The Council hopes that their efforts will help to reduce the spread of AIDS within the community. The P.G. workshops will be conducted in Maya.
Ch 5:

HIV/AIDS batters children and adolescents …
Earlier this year, Belize’s health sector celebrated a significant milestone when no maternal or infant death was recorded in the first half of 2008. But according to the organisers of a two-day technical meeting being held in Belize City, there is an urgent need to bridge the gap in services for children and adolescents, especially in relation to HIV/AIDS.

Rana Flowers, Country Rep., UNICEF
“Children are missing from our response and so this meeting is really saying, okay, this is not acceptable because children are ten percent of those being infected and it is adolescents and adolescent girls in particular that are leading the infection. So we really need to focus on this age group and see what’s happening in this age group.”

Peter Eden Martinez, Minister of Human Development
“The Ministry of Health has its primary task to address mother to child transmission; that it is always trying to improve. Free anti-retroviral are available and we know that more and more children and adolescents are accessing these services. The Department of Human Services is providing care for orphans and infected children who have become wards of the state as their extended families have been unable to cope. They are also supporting a number of other extended families to keep their young members within their care but truly, the attempts to respond to the needs of this population of children in a holistic way and through the lifecycle has been led by the N.G.O. community. Yes, some really good things have happened and continue to happen, but they are either happening on two small a scale or in silos and there are definitely some large gaps in services.”

Adele Catzim-Sanchez, Consultant
“We need to incorporate the needs of the HIV adolescent because that is a population that has been invisible in the whole national response. We also need to look at how do we develop a better continuum of care for children who are HIV positive after they turn five because currently the system does not allow for a smooth transition for those children out of the maternal and child health programme intro the regular health system. We need to look more at how we maximise the resources that we do have. It is also true that we need to mobilise additional resources, but at the same time if we improve our coordination, our networking, the effectiveness in managing what we have, then we are going to go a long way in making the response more meet the needs of people who are HIV positive.”
AIDS in black Americans neglected
By LESLIE FULBRIGHT, San Francisco Chronicle

July 29, 2008

SAN FRANCISCO - In some U.S. cities, the HIV rates among black Americans are close to those of developing African countries, according to a report released Tuesday by the Black AIDS Institute. If blacks in the United States constituted their own country, that nation would rank 16th in people living with HIV, 105th in life expectancy and 88th in infant mortality worldwide, according to the report.

The United States is at the forefront of a global response to HIV and AIDS but lacks a sense of urgency when it comes to the crisis facing black Americans, the report says.

Titled "Left Behind! Black America: A Neglected Priority in the Global AIDS Epidemic," the report says the number of black Americans infected with HIV exceeds the number of people with the virus in seven of the 15 countries served by the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.

"When we give aid to foreign countries, we demand that they have a national AIDS plan, but we don't have a plan in the United States," said Phill Wilson, founder and CEO of the Black AIDS Institute.

The report calls for national actions such as HIV testing and prevention in black communities, urges global AIDS leaders to speak out on the neglect in the United States, and says black communities need to work to fight stigma and prejudice.

During a news conference, the Rev. Al Sharpton said the disproportionate and critical levels of AIDS in the black community should be a priority in the United States.

"We must have a policy that strictly deals with the racial imbalance," he said. "To not deal with the disproportionate way it hits black America is doing a disservice to the issue and a disservice to black America."

The report's authors say that they are not criticizing the aid given to countries in Africa and the Caribbean, but that there also must be prevention strategies designed specifically for black Americans.

Surveys show black Americans regard AIDS as the country's most serious health threat. But the federal government apparently doesn't share that view, the report says.

"The U.S. government's response to what is perhaps the most serious health crisis facing black America remains timid and lethargic," the report says. "They act as if AIDS has been solved here, and have no strategy for the epidemic."

People with HIV are doing much better with recently developed drug combinations, and that may have contributed to the idea that the problem is solved, the report says. But there is a continuing need for prevention, it says.

Contributing to the disparity in black Americans is the high poverty rate, because poor people have less access to medical information, health care and treatment; higher rates of sexually transmitted diseases among black people, which make them more likely to contract HIV; and the ongoing reluctance by black Americans to address the disease at all because of its association with homosexuality, which carries a heavy stigma among blacks.

Although only one in eight Americans is black, 50 percent of those infected with HIV in the United States are black, says the report.

© 2008 Star Tribune
they talked about that in the Black In America series. Black people need to make this an issue, they can't wait and expect people to care
I saw bits and pieces of the segment this a.m. while getting ready for work. It's pretty scary. Washington has the highest concentration of infected Blacks.

People better start insisting in double-bags out there. For every 2 one is an African American that's infected.
August 11, 2008

Belizean delegates arrived back home over the weekend equipped with the latest international initiatives and information on fighting HIV/AIDS from the 17th Global Conference on HIV & AIDS held in Mexico City from August 3rd to the 8th. Some seven delegates representing the Belize Red Cross Society, the Alliance Against AIDS, the Belize Family Life Association, the United Belize Advocacy Movement and Positive Lives attended the weeklong conference as well as Pre- Conference Meetings held in the Mexican capital. These meetings were held during the week previous to the conference. The theme of the conference was “Universal Action Now” and was attended by a record 23 thousand delegates from throughout the world. Among the major highlights of the conference were the announcement of the Spanish government to increase its funding of the Global Fund on HIV / AIDS and UNAIDS. For their part, Spanish non government organizations signed a declaration along with Latin American NGOs to increase pressure on their respective governments to give HIV/AIDS more funding and more priority in their national and international discussions and agreements. This was also the first such conference to host a Global Parade and demonstration against homophobia calling for a repeal of all anti homosexual laws globally and an end to anti discriminatory practices against Men who have Sex with Men. Global Women organizations also held the first conference parade on ending violence against women, which is a main factor in spreading the virus among women globally. Reports coming out of the conference also indicate that communities and Civil Society Organizations responding to the epidemic were more visible that in previous conferences. They were all part of the well acclaimed Global Village which included exhibit stands, presentations of drama, dance, music displays, networking rooms and sales of craft by Persons Living with HIV from throughout the world. Also a highlight at the conference was a Session on Caribbean approaches in its response to the epidemic which was co chaired by Dr. Carol Jacobs of Barbados and Dr. Edward Greene of PANCAP. The conference closed on Friday.
how come no one ever wants to discuss this topic...this is like the elephant in the room.
how come no one ever wants to discuss this topic...this is like the elephant in the room.

when another member used to bring it up, they acted like it only happened in Dangriga:rolleyes:

It's something that needs to be addressed, just like the known child molestors that are lurking in Belize.
Unfortunately there are so many contributing factors to the problem ,when it comes to AIDS and the transmission of the HIV Virus.By me being an American born Belizean I am aware that when family members or myself go and visit Belize "Or get deported" it is almost as if all the men(or women) want a piece of you simply because you come from states.Please don't take offense to what I'm saying because I am only speaking from my own personal experience and am not trying to find out why this happens because I don't have the answers, but it does happen.From the womens standpoint alot of them go there and try to reconnect with their roots by having a fling with a man whom they feel is very down to earth,without drama,loving,etc so they sleep with them.Some men come from the States with the same ideas but also look at a woman in Belize as pure and virtuous,and they crave that sense of conquering whether or not the situation is so.What needs to happen is

I don't have all the answers any more than you but this is something to think about!

Love FM:

September 24, 2008

The Belize Council of Churches is hosting a three day seminar that aims to engage all the churches and the evangelical leaders in learning more and being more open to the causes of HIV/AIDS and its effects on the church, people and society. Canon Leroy Flowers is the President of the Belize Council of Churches.

Canon Leroy Flowers, President, Belize Council of Churches

“The Council of Churches in its work trying to respond to the needs of the wider community recognizes that HIV is still a taboo subject within the context of the Christian Church and it is wreaking havoc up on the wider Belizean Society. And therefore we felt that it was important. This is the second in a series assisted by the Caribbean Conference of Churches. We looked last year at the feminization of HIV, we are looking tomorrow and on Friday on the vulnerable population that seems to be conspicuously absent from our conversation and so people need to be informed. One of the realities is that leaders need to be informed and to get the right facts not base upon emotions but based on what the facts are.”

The seminar is being facilitated by Nolly Clarke, Associate General Secretary of the Caribbean Council of Churches. He is being assisted by Elizabeth Nicholas, Regional Coordinator at the Caribbean Council of Churches. Canon Flowers told us more about what they hope to accomplish over the next three days.

Canon Leroy Flowers, President, Belize Council of Churches

“The Belize Council of Churches over the past three years have forged a greater partnership with the Caribbean Conference of Churches and three years ago we hosted the regional meeting here in Belize for the first time and so we are elated that the conference of churches have given it support for the work that we are doing and we expect that the relationship will continue whereby we share resources and information. I must say to you however, that it is not only with the Caribbean Conference of Churches, the Council of Churches with the assistance of UNICEF have been running a program with Mrs. Mirna Manzanarez has been going around working with church leaders across the country to sensitize and inform and bring awareness to the whole matter of HIV/AIDS because you know in the Christian Community that is still a taboo and we have to honest with ourselves that it is our sons and daughters, our brothers and sisters who are being affected and infected with this disease. The end result is that we will be better informed and two we will be able to come up with what strategy we need to address in order as a church to be able to join in this struggle because this struggle need all of us to be able to stem this tide.”

The seminar is being held at Chateau Caribbean and will end on Friday.
Study traces AIDS virus origin to 100 years ago

Study traces AIDS virus origin to 100 years ago

NEW YORK - The AIDS virus has been circulating among people for about 100 years, decades longer than scientists had thought, a new study suggests.

Genetic analysis pushes the estimated origin of HIV back to between 1884 and 1924, with a more focused estimate at 1908.

Previously, scientists had estimated the origin at around 1930. AIDS wasn't recognized formally until 1981 when it got the attention of public health officials in the United States.

The new result is "not a monumental shift, but it means the virus was circulating under our radar even longer than we knew," says Michael Worobey of the University of Arizona, an author of the new work.

The results appear in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature. Researchers note that the newly calculated dates fall during the rise of cities in Africa, and they suggest urban development may have promoted HIV's initial establishment and early spread.

Scientists say HIV descended from a chimpanzee virus that jumped to humans in Africa, probably when people butchered chimps. Many individuals were probably infected that way, but so few other people caught the virus that it failed to get a lasting foothold, researchers say.

But the growth of African cities may have changed that by putting lots of people close together and promoting prostitution, Worobey suggested. "Cities are kind of ideal for a virus like HIV," providing more chances for infected people to pass the virus to others, he said.

Perhaps a person infected with the AIDS virus in a rural area went to what is now Kinshasa, Congo, "and now you've got the spark arriving in the tinderbox," Worobey said.

Key to the new work was the discovery of an HIV sample that had been taken from a woman in Kinshasa in 1960. It was only the second such sample to be found from before 1976; the other was from 1959, also from Kinshasa.

Researchers took advantage of the fact that HIV mutates rapidly. So two strains from a common ancestor quickly become less and less alike in their genetic material over time. That allows scientists to "run the clock backward" by calculating how long it would take for various strains to become as different as they are observed to be. That would indicate when they both sprang from their most recent common ancestor.

The new work used genetic data from the two old HIV samples plus more than 100 modern samples to create a family tree going back to these samples' last common ancestor. Researchers got various answers under various approaches for when that ancestor virus appeared, but the 1884-to-1924 bracket is probably the most reliable, Worobey said.

The new work is "clearly an improvement" over the previous estimate of around 1930, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in Bethesda, Md. His institute helped pay for the work.

Fauci described the advance as "a fine-tuning."

Experts say it's no surprise that HIV circulated in humans for about 70 years before being recognized. An infection usually takes years to produce obvious symptoms, a lag that can mask the role of the virus, and it would have infected relatively few Africans early in its spread, they said.