86.8 F
Cruz Bay
Sunday, October 2, 2022


Project Resolve is a collaborative project between the Interfaith Coalitions of St. Croix and St. Thomas and the health centers.
The Interfaith Coalitions have worked extensively with communities, collaborating on various projects. Their timely response after Hurricanes Hugo and Marilyn helped communities to rebuild and families to return to their normal lives. Now they are working with the Department of Health clinics to help with disaster of another kind — HIV and AIDS.
AIDS is an affliction of the whole human family. We all participate.
Issues associated with HIV/AIDS must be addressed forthrightly and honestly. The realities of our youths' lives today require compassion and participation by the faith community. Project Resolve has been undertaken to provide that participation.
Reported cases of HIV and AIDS continue to rise in the U.S.Virgin Islands. Surveillance data as well as data on HIV-risk indicators, such as sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and unintended pregnancies, show that HIV infection in the territory is growing rapidly, especially among the African-American population, women and the poor.
From 1996 to 1997, the incidence of AIDS reported in the Virgin Islands increased by more than 400 percent. Much of the increase was attributable to improved monitoring and reporting. However, the number of clients seeking HIV/AIDS services at Department of Health clinics increased dramatically, indicating a real increase in incidence.
Much of this increase occurred among African-American and Hispanic residents and women. Heterosexual sex is the leading way AIDS is spread. For one-fourth of the cases reported, however, there was no identifiable risk.
About 37 percent of the territory's AIDS cases are on St. Croix but nearly 70 percent of our AIDS-related deaths take place on that island. There are few HIV/AIDS service organizations and clinics on St. Croix; HIV primary care is available at only one location, and services are offered at very limited times, by just one physician.
The most recent figures available show St. Thomas with 248 cumulative cases of AIDS, St. Croix with 120 and St. John with four. As the numbers increase territorywide, the need for primary care services is reaching a critical point. Many people are dying unnecessarily because they do not receive services, medications and needed testing.
Recognizing the growing HIV care needs of their outpatient clients, the health centers provide in-kind HIV counseling and testing; but due to limited resources, they do not currently provide HIV primary care services.
This is where Project Resolve comes in.
In collaboration, the Interfaith Coalitions and health centers will utilize their networks and resources to bring together community leaders and organizations, the Health Department and other key stakeholders to develop a comprehensive plan for HIV primary care.
The plan will include strategies for increasing public awareness and understanding of HIV/AIDS, ensuring confidentiality, developing a strategic plan for comprehensive HIV clinical health services, initiating HIV clinical care in health centers, and developing a plan to streamline and network related services utilized by people living with HIV/AIDS.
The plan for the first time actively engages the faith community in discussions. Health-care providers recognized that the physical, emotional and mental aspects of the AIDS epidemic were addressed but the missing sector was the faith community. We recognized that there are barriers based on misunderstanding and that young adults constitute one of the fastest-growing segments of the population at risk.
Editor's note: Dr. Cora Christian is director and principal clinical coordinator of the Virgin Islands Medical Institute.

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.