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CHARLOTTE AMALIE — In recognition of World Aids Day, the Immunization Division of the USVI Department of Health (DOH) and the Frederiksted Health Center will be hosting events today.

World Aids Day is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, to show support for people living with HIV, and to commemorate those who have died from an AIDS-related illness.

World AIDS Day reminds the public and decision makers that there is still a vital need to support HIV programs, increase awareness, fight prejudice, stigma and discrimination and improve education. Founded in 1988, World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day. Globally, there are an estimated 36.7 million people who have the virus. Despite the virus only being identified in 1984, more than 35 million people have died of HIV or AIDS, making it one of the most destructive pandemics in history.

In the U.S. Virgin Islands, approximately 643 people are living with HIV. Many have died from AIDS, which marks the final stage of living with HIV without effective treatment. The epidemic has had significant impact on the Caribbean region and globally. As of 2016, there were 310,000 people living with HIV in the Caribbean and globally there are 36.7 million people. In 2016 alone, there were an estimated 18,000 new HIV infections in the Caribbean region and 1.8 million globally.

Today, huge scientific advances have been made in HIV treatment, there are laws to protect people living with HIV and we understand so much more about the condition. In fact, living with HIV is now considered a chronic condition, like diabetes. Treatment can keep someone healthy and can effectively reduce the risk of transmission to zero. Despite this, each year many people are diagnosed with HIV, confirming that there is still much work to be done locally and globally as people still do not know the facts about how to protect themselves and others from HIV. On this very important day, The US Virgin Island Department of Health (DOH) and Frederiksted Health Care, Inc., (FHC) joins forces to encourage all Virgin Islanders to learn the facts about HIV/AIDS, know their HIV status by getting tested and get involved in raising awareness about HIV prevention within your community. WE look forward to your participation and support on this very important day.

The DOH and FHC encourages the public to get tested and know your status.

FREE CONFIDENTIAL HIV TESTING is Ongoing at the following locations:

USVI Department of Health: Charles Harwood Complex, St. Croix – (340) 718-1311 Ext. 3680

The Old Municipal Hospital, St. Thomas – (340) 774-9000 Ext. 4661

Frederiksted Health Care: 516 Strand Street, Frederiksted, St. Croix – (340) 772-0260

WORLD AIDS DAY ACTIVITIES – Friday, December 1ST, 2017 STT 10:00AM – 2:00PM DOH HIV/AIDS Awareness Health Fair – The Old Municipal Hospital, STX 5:30 PM – 6:00PM Memorial March & Vigil – (Begins at Frederiksted P.O. to Fish Market)

STX 6:00PM – 7:00PM PERFORMANCE – “Life in the Time of HIV” (Dorsch Center/across from Turtles Deli)

STX 7:00PM – 7:30PM Networking and Refreshments –

Today is World AIDS Day and, though the number of new HIV infections in the United States has declined since 2010 —and the number of worldwide deaths from AIDS has gone down by 50 percent since 2005—there are still more than 36 million people around the world who are living with AIDS, according to the World Health Organization.

Only half are receiving appropriate treatment—which makes the NGO’s global theme for the 30th World AIDS Day particularly fitting. This year, WHO has declared the theme is “right to health.” Specifically, the organization hopes to draw attention to the need for universal health coverage.

“Under the slogan ‘everybody counts,’ WHO will advocate for access to safe, effective, quality and affordable medicines, including medicines, diagnostics and other health commodities as well as health care services for all people in need, while also ensuring that they are protected against financial risks,” the organization stated on its website.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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