World AIDS Day: Seychelles honours fighters against disease and loss of lives
Seychelles joined other countries to commemorate World AIDS day. (Sedrick Nicette, Seychelles News Agency)
A number of people who have been actively involved in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Seychelles for many years were rewarded in a ceremony on Friday, December 1, as Seychelles joined other countries to commemorate World AIDS Day.
The ceremony honoured those who are fighting against the disease and those who have lost their lives to the disease in Seychelles.
Seychelles health minister Peggy Vidot presented the prizes to those and said "I am really happy to be able to reward the people who did not stop the fight and those who fought to ensure that treatment for HIV/AIDS is readily available to people in Seychelles."
She added that the Ministry of Health applauds their continuous contributions to the cause and will keep working hard to ensure that nobody is left behind.
Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, recorded its first case of a Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection in 1987 and its first case of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) in 1992.
During the ceremony, Vidot launched the theme for World AIDS Day 2022 - "Equalise: Take action to end inequalities."
In his message to mark the occasion, Seychelles' President Wavel Ramkalawan said that the theme for this year's World AIDS Day "is a call for action for us to come up with practical ways to ensure that everyone is well-served in terms of HIV testing, prevention and treatment."
He added that the commemoration of World AIDS Day 2022 "reminds us once again that even 35 years since the first case was diagnosed in our country, we are still facing HIV infections as a major public health challenge."
Ramkalawan said that Seychelles like other countries is facing HIV in a world which has not yet got rid of COVID-19 and to remember that HIV is a pandemic too that has not gone away.
"Let us think about HIV for a moment. Let us think also about how we may put ourselves at risk by what we do or do not do. Think about how we can turn the tide by changing our behaviour and doing the right thing at the right time. It takes just a moment to let our guard down and get infected with a disease which lasts a lifetime," he added.
In the figures up to 2021 from the National AIDS Council, there are 881 people currently on antiretroviral therapy out of the 969 people living with HIV in Seychelles.
The President said that "with a sustained and concerted effort to tackle the subtle and not so subtle inequalities which drive the epidemic, we should be able to end AIDS in our country. So, on this World AIDS Day, let us remind ourselves that inequalities felt by one group of persons should concern all of us, no matter who we are. [...] Let us work harder and harder every day for a world without HIV, without AIDS, without epidemics and pandemics and without inequalities."
This year's theme "Equalise" calls on leaders and citizens to boldly recognise and address the inequalities which are holding back progress in ending AIDS.
It also emphasises the importance of equal access to essential HIV services, particularly for key populations and their partners. This occasion is an essential step forward in eliminating new HIV infections and reaching the UNAIDS target of a HIV free country by 2030