But there is some good news to the health of the nation. And that’s because a U.N.D.P. study finds that the prevalence rate of Aids is a two point three percent and that there is a decrease in new infections in comparison to the 2009 figures when a little over five thousand cases were reported. The decrease is slightly over fourteen percent which, according to the U.N.D.P., shows that a reversal in the spread of the infectious disease is underway. News Five’s Jose Sanchez reports.

Jose Sanchez, Reporting

The United Nations Development Programme is conducting a workshop to look at Belize’s progress in the battle to save lives. UNDP’s Regional Leader for Latin America and the Caribbean, Maria Tallarico has conducting a research on HIV/Aids which includes Belize.

Maria Tallarico, Regional Leader, (LAC)UNDP, Panama

Maria Tallarico

“We are documenting the experience of Belize. How coordinated the national response and the main project on HIV/Aids, Belize has the grant with the global fund and how a small country as Belize with limited human resource and limited financial resources has managed to influence through a very good coordination mechanism, the study of the epidemic. National coordination is leadership, it’s making decision, take action influence and how we fight against the epidemic.”

HIV affects the entire planet. The Caribbean and Latin America are regions in which the struggle to slow the rate of infection has been taxing. Kathy Esquivel, the Chairperson of the National Aids Commission says that the death rate is slowing as more people are accessing health care.

Kathy Esquivel

Kathy Esquivel, Chairperson, National Aids Commission

“Well Belize is very honored because we are one of only six countries chosen by U.N.D.P. for the study. The reason is that we in Belize has had some success in the way we approach the epidemic. The study is to see how we are doing it in Belize and of course to see not only the things that are going well, but how we can improve the response.”

Jose Sanchez

“The rhetoric has always been that Belize is one of the worst in the Caribbean and the region when it comes to HIV infections. What is different this time around?”

Kathy Esquivel

“That is in fact true. We do have a high rate of incidence and prevalence in Belize. But what is important to note is that because of the work of all the many, many people working in the field, Belize is able to not only halt the increase of new infections—which we saw in 2008 when it plateaued and in fact in 2009-2010, we have significantly decreased the number of new infections. So the message is going out and we are beginning to put a dent into HIV epidemic. But that doesn’t mean that we can relax, there is plenty more to be done.”

Maria Tallarico

“The reduction of new infection among young people; I think is a success because younger people are HIV negative, almost all of them before starting the sexual life. So if they continue to be negative that means that they continue to protect themselves, they make prevention. Prevention is always the very difficult part of the Aids response in every country. If you look at the mortality rate of people living with Aids, the mortality rate now is reducing because there is access to treatment. Still forty percent of the population has not accessed the treatment because they don’t know they have Aids or they have difficulty to reach health center or any other obstacle that I think there are great results in the country and that’s what people will document today.”

Reporting for News Five, Jose Sanchez.

Even with the improvement in the statistics, Belize is still one of the most affected countries in the region. Also taking part in the global study on the management and coordination of Aids responses along with Belize are Malawi, Tanzania, India, Indonesia, and El Salvador.

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