While the mortality rate with respect to HIV and Aids in Tobago is on the decline, the infection rate continues to make steady strides and is a developing trend.
So said Community Action Resource (CARE) chairman Dale Enoch following yesterday's annual Aids walk in Tobago. The organisation has been around for the past 23 years and looks after those living and affected by HIV and Aids.
"Behaviour patterns are not changing as fast as they should in Tobago and people are not making the link between their behaviour and infection...this is very dangerous. That's something Tobagonians need to pay attention to," Enoch said.
His comments came as the Friends of the Tobago Aids Society held their 11th annual Aids walk under the theme, "Change Behaviour, Save Yourself and Others".
The walk started from the Dwight Yorke Stadium in Bacolet at 5 a.m. and concluded at Store Bay Beach facilities, with more than 1,000 people participating.
Soca star Kes Dieffenthaller was in attendance, along with Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Chief Secretary Orville London, Health Secretary Claudia Groome-Duke and Assistant Secretary Youth Affairs and Sport Huey Cadette.
At Bon Accord, the walk paused to allow the participants to light candles and offer a moment of silence on behalf of those lost to HIV and Aids.
London, commenting following the walk, called on Tobagonians to remain vigilant and not be careless or indifferent in the "fight".
"People no longer see it as a death sentence and therefore the fear factor, interestingly, which used to a certain extent deter people, that fear factor is no longer as evident," London said.
However, in terms of stigma and discrimination, he said Tobagonians must be commended for the strides made.
"I remember the first march, and you could have known the people who people felt were affected with HIV/Aids. There was a space, now we see people hugging and kissing and so on," London said.
The walk later concluded with a cool down exercise routine and a performance by Kes.