79.7 F
Charlotte Amalie
Thursday, July 25, 2024


Nov. 25, 2003 — Five people worldwide die of AIDS every minute of every day. HIV has hit every corner of the globe, infecting more than 42 million men, women and children — five million of them last year alone.
In the Virgin Islands, the situation is not much different. According to Carolyn Forno, executive director of VICARE, HIV/AIDS is having a serious impact on the community.
"There are 35 new cases this year in the Virgin Islands" she said. "We have 500 persons presently living with AIDS in the territory and we have had 300 fatalities.
"In a population of 100,000, those are very alarming numbers," she said.
VICARE was founded in 1994 and provides HIV prevention and education outreach through a four-year grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"What people need to know," Forno said, "is that HIV/AIDS is 100-percent preventable."
HIV/AIDS is spread in three ways, she said: by having unsafe sex, by sharing needles and by a mother passing the virus to her child.
World AIDS Day will be observed in the territory with special events throughout the week and culminating Monday on St. Croix with a candlelight march beginning at 6:30 p.m. from the VICARE offices at 16-17 King Street in Christiansted to the waterfront.
World AIDS Day is a way to increase awareness on the impact of HIV/AIDS in the Virgin Islands and around the globe. The local committee is asking the community to participate in all the activities planned locally. The theme this year is "Stigma and Discriminating: Live and Let Live."
Forno explained the theme is very relevant in a small community like the Virgin Islands. She says the stigma associated with the disease prevents people from taking the tests, and that prevents treatment.
"More people need to admit they are HIV-positive or have the AIDS virus; more people need to be willing to be tested," Forno said. With every person who stands up, takes the test and admits they have the virus, the stigma decreases, she said.
As part of the observance of World AIDS Day, VICARE has invited an HIV-positive 17-year-old youth from Florida to speak to students at the local high schools. "Because of confidentiality we do not want to revel the young man's name beforehand," Forno said.
VICARE has several youth-outreach programs, including a six-week HIV-education curriculum in the schools and youth organizations, a peer-education program and the Youth Rehabilitation Center Theater Program, an HIV-prevention program using theater and the arts at the YRC.
St. Croix events planned around this year's AIDS Day include:
• Saturday: Poetry reading, 7-9 p.m., Blue Moon Cafe in Frederiksted.
• Monday: Candlelight march and vigil, 6:30 p.m., beginning at 16-17 King Street and proceeding to the waterfront.
• Dec. 3: World AIDS Day school art contest and reception, 4-5:30 p.m., Sunshine Mall, Frederiksted. Artwork will be displayed through Dec. 6.
• Dec. 6: annual AIDS Walk-a-Thon, 7-10 a.m. Five miles through the rainforest beginning and ending at the Lawaetz Museum on Mahogany Road in Frederiksted ($10 minimum pledge).
• Dec. 6: Health fair 11 a.m.-4 p.m., Sunshine Mall. Free HIV testing and counseling, safe-sex materials and information, glucose screening, blood-pressure screening, kids' corner, demonstrations, T-shirts and entertainment.

Back Talk

Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name, and the city and state/country or island where you reside.
Publisher's note : Like the St. Croix Source now? Find out how you can love us twice as much — and show your support for the islands' free and independent news voice … click here.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.

Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.