|Government strengthens local HIV/AIDS care and treatment regime|
A Laboratory Technician of the Peebles Hospital demonstrates the use of the new CD 4 machine. Photo Credit: Ministry of Health and Social Development
Persons living with HIV/AIDS in the Virgin Islands will now have access to improved testing as part of their regular HIV management and care locally.
This is due to the addition of two new pieces of equipment to the Peebles Hospital Laboratory, namely a CD 4 machine used for testing CD 4 white blood cell count and a Biological Safety Cabinet to safeguard the laboratory staff when working with infectious samples.
According to Acting Coordinator of the National AIDS Programme, Noelene Levons-Clarke, CD 4 cells are the white blood cells that are attacked when the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) enters the body. With proper treatment and care these white blood cells can increase and the HIV decreases.
She said: “Prior to obtaining the CD 4 machine, blood samples were sent to Puerto Rico for local clients and visitors who required testing for CD4 cell count. This increased costs to the patients and the hospital with an extended waiting time.”
Analysis of CD 4 cells in HIV management is performed at least once every three months and more frequently for persons with AIDS and Opportunistic Infections. The new CD 4 machine is designed to provide the results for the white blood cell count, to help to monitor the effectiveness of the medications used and to determine the stages of the HIV infection.
According to the Ministry of Health and Social Development, the provision of the CD 4 machine and the Bio-Safety Cabinet is a component of the Contribution Agreement between the European Union (EU), Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), World Health Organisation (WHO) and the PAHO HIV Caribbean Office (PHCO).
Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health and Social Development, Petrona Davies expressed her appreciation for the functional cooperation that the Territory has fostered with donor agencies over the years and especially to the European Commission and its implementing partner, the Pan American OrganizationHIV Caribbean Office (PHCO).
Chief Executive Officer of the BVI Health Services Authority, Dr. Ronald Georges stated: “The BVI Health Services Authority is happy to now be able to offer expanded diagnosis to people living with HIV/AIDS and other infectious agents.”
The donation was made under a programme of technical and financial assistance provided to Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) for the implementation of the EU Project entitled “Strengthening the Integration of the British and Dutch OCTs in the Regional Response to HIV/AIDS through PANCAP”.
The Ministry of Health and Social Development endeavours to provide leadership that promotes health, social well-being and a safe environment.
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