Government of Montserrat

11 HIV CASES ON MONTSERRAT BEING ADEQUATELY MANAGED

Persons living with HIV on Montserrat are managing their conditions well, accessing treatment and living full lives.
 

This was disclosed by the Health Promotion Coordinator in the Ministry of Health and Social Services, Mrs. Penny Maloney as she provided an update on Montserrat’s current HIV status, and highlighted upcoming activities to promote safe sex practices. Her comments were made as Montserrat joins the observance of World AIDS Day on December 1st.
 

Although the Ministry of Health has no record of anyone living with AIDS on the island, Mrs. Maloney said there are 11 recorded HIV positive cases here; 2 of which are new cases recorded in 2018.

 
If left untreated, HIV can progress to AIDS. Mrs. Maloney therefore emphasised that it is important for persons to access care and be treated. She further noted that the HIV positive persons here “are living happy, healthy and productive lives, are accessing treatment and are doing really well.”

 
While the focus of World AIDS Day is on HIV/AIDS, Mrs. Maloney also noted that there are other sexually transmitted diseases/infections which are observed here by the Ministry of Health. These include gonorrhoea, syphilis and hepatitis, among others.

 
She pointed out that STIs are sometimes more prevalent around peak periods of the year, such as festival periods. The Health Promotion Coordinator explained that this may be due to the level of alcohol consumption during those times, which can impact on the decision making process. “So you’ll find around very prominent festivals, like St. Patrick’s and our December Festival, that a few weeks later we’ll start to see a couple more cases than normal…so we do have to pay extra attention at this point in time,” stated Mrs. Maloney.

 
She said the Ministry ensures that revellers and party goers have access to condoms by delivering packages to event organisers and promoters, and stocking bars in the festival locations.

 
However, Mrs. Maloney said even with all of these efforts to increase access to condoms, the responsibility to actually use the condoms, rest with the individuals.

 
The Ministry will be engaging in heightened awareness activities in the coming days and weeks. The theme for this year’s observance of World AIDS Day is ‘Communities make the difference’.