The HIV/AIDS Response Unit is concerned about the incidence of HIV among young people under 30.
Acting Coordinator of the Unit, Lester Guye spoke with Dominica Vibes radio on Monday.
He said that data for 2019 shows that less people than normal have tested positive for HIV/AIDS but Hurricane Maria had caused the unit to scale back on its rapid testing services so the two could be linked.
Numbers for previous years, however, are alarming especially among the vulnerable groups.
“Between 2016 and 2018, we had 61 cases and one our greatest challenges is that a great percentage of that was young people including young women under the age of 20 and young men between 20-30 who are what we consider our vulnerable population,” Guye says.
“Men who have sex with men are at a greater risk of transmitting the disease or any Sexually Transmitted Infection based on their sexual practices, and that has always been a challenge for us across the world. The same challenges exist everywhere.”
He adds, “There is still the aspect of discrimination of those people so a lot of them of them are still in the closet and don’t have the opportunity to get the information that they want as it relates to safer sexual practices.”
He believes that the population may have become indifferent to the impacts of the disease.
“Although, there has been major strides made in HIV/AIDS management, and HIV is no longer a death sentence, you are still at risk,” Guye emphasizes. “It will affect your quality of life at some point. If you get a new partner, you will have to explain that you are HIV positive and then will the person be willing to accept you and so on.”
He adds, “What I think has happened over the past decade is that because people are familiar with the fact the HIV is no longer a death sentence, people have become a bit lackadaisical as it relates to their sexual and reproductive health.”
The Unit tests about 60 people a month of which about 75% are less than 40 years old.