(Trinidad Guardian) Migrants will receive the same free health care as nationals, particularly in relation to sexually transmitted diseases, Minister of Health Terrance Deyalsingh said on Monday.
The Minister said treatment of migrants was important, given that they are likely to mingle with the population.
He was speaking during the seventh meeting of National Aids Programme Manager and Key Partners at the Trinidad Hilton.
“On the issue of migrants, we have taken a decision in Trinidad and Tobago, you know we have Venezuelan migrants, to treat them as nationals. Because migrants don’t live in isolation in the countries they migrate to. They mix with the rest of the population, they integrate themselves with the environment,” said Deyalsingh, “so we have taken a policy decision at the Ministry of Health to treat all migrants regardless of their country of origin as citizens of Trinidad and Tobago when it comes to public health.”
During the conference, the Minister said an estimated 1,000 persons in this country have HIV/Aids but don’t know it.
He admitted that locating this group proved to be difficult despite the introduction of rapid testing in communities.
Deyalsingh noted that men, in particular, were averse to getting tested for the disease.
“It is nigh impossible to get men to be responsible to get testing. Our men need to be lead to the well and we are going to have to refocus on getting men’s clinics because women see no problem in getting tested. Women are much more responsible,” said Deyalsingh.
“For Trinidad and Tobago’s reality the community rapid testing programme has been seen to be a low yield programme to get the 1,134 persons that represent our gap, that is where we have to focus to get our first 90 (per cent eradication),” said Deyalsingh as his Ministry continued the push for the eradication of the HIV epidemic by the year 2030.
“That gap of a 1,000 people will be found during a period of scaled-up testing going into communities and really focusing on what we call the key populations. To test them and to find that gap of about 1,100 persons who we estimate are living with the disease but don’t know their status,” the Health Minister explained the key population included sex workers and homosexual men.
An estimated 11,000 people are living with HIV in the country, the Minister said. It is a number that has been on the decline since 2010.
However, the director of Pan Caribbean Partnership Against HIV/Aids (PANCAP) Dereck Springer said while this estimate had been provided via an ongoing programme called Spectrum, they were set to meet with UNAIDS from tomorrow to revise their methods of tabulating numbers.