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June 7 Bridgetown Barbados:  Health Minister has warned that the island could face a catastrophe if more is not done to tackle HIV and Aids there. Jerome Walcott told an audience at the Second Caribbean International Workshop of Flowcytometry and Molecular Techniques in the Management of HIV, that a global attitude was needed.

“HIV/Aids has brought us face-to-face with our conscience and has brought to the forefront our responsibilities, including the vital fact that we must be our brother’s keeper if we are to survive the epidemic,” he said.

He continued: “The total number of reported cases of Aids (since 1984) now stands at 1,851 and 1,245 persons have died,” he told a hushed audience.

“There are 1,716 reported cases of HIV positive persons presently alive, of whom 606 are reported Aids cases.

“As small islands and developing states we are aware that geographically we are in each other’s backyard, and that what affects one will have an impact on the others,” he warned.

Flowcytometry is a cutting edge technology that provides laboratory monitoring of patients with HIV and Aids.

“It is essential that we embrace these concepts not only as we strive to find a cure for HIV/Aids, but also as we treat, care for and generally seek to improve the quality of life of those persons infected and affected by this disease,” said Walcott. “We cannot do it alone, we must do it together – nations must help nations, and people must help each other.

“In the Caribbean, where the incidence of HIV and Aids is second to that of sub-Saharan Africa, it is essential that we work together in the spirit of co-operation. If we are to survive we must combat the disease together in all areas – research, treatment, care and support,” he said.

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