Speaking with the media after yesterday’s launch of the HIV/ Aids Coordinating First National Health Accounts Launch held at the Multi-purpose Hall at the Works and Transport Ministry, Richmond Street, Port-of-Spain, the minister said 80 per cent of the people who were infected knew about their status, but hoped to improve this figure to 90 per cent.
“The 90 per cent who know their status should be on drugs, and those who are on drugs should have their viral load decrease to less than 50 and that is how the world is going to move to being HIV free by 2030, by knowing the population that have it,” he said.
Deyalsingh said TT had been able to save TT$55 million for the year using the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) Strategic Fund which made antiretroviral drugs more affordable and accesible.
The minister said it took him an entire year to save the PEPFAR Small Grants Program (PSGP) which was part of the Caribbean Regional Partnership framework against HIV/AIDS and focused on community based prevention activities to reduce the spread of HIV, reduce AIDS related stigma and discrimination and encouraged communities to cooperate in fighting the epidemic. With regard to the availability of the anti-retroviral drugs, Deyalsingh said they had reviewed the protocol for many of the drugs that took up a lot of the budget.
“We have reviewed the protocol for oncology where we would guarantee a supply of a basket of drugs and also HIV/Aids,” Deyalsingh said. “We are also relying on the PAHO Strategic Fund to purchase those drugs.
“This is something that was ignored for years. We have saved the country TT$55 million so far on HIV/Aids drugs.” Deyalsingh added, “We have ordered more drugs because of this and because we are no longer importing them through the local distributors, but bringing it through the PAHO Strategic Fund, we cut off a lot of the profit.
“PAHO is not in this to make money, they are here to provide a service.” The minister also highlighted the fact that there was need to have a data base on people infected with HIV/Aids. He said the status of people with HIV/Aids no longer had to be a death sentence but a life sentence.