Caribbean stakeholders call for focus on key populations and community-led approaches to HIV and COVID-19

Caribbean partners from governments, civil society and the development community met on 7 June to discuss regional priorities for the 2021 United Nations High-Level Meeting on AIDS and its resulting political declaration. The virtual Caribbean Caucus was hosted by the Pan Caribbean Partnership against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP) and moderated by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Assistant Secretary-General, Dr Douglas Slater.

The PANCAP Director, Dr Rosmond Adams, noted that the Caribbean had made significant progress in key aspects of the HIV response. Eight countries and territories have been validated by the World Health Organization for eliminating vertical HIV and syphilis transmission. And between 2010 and 2020, AIDS-related deaths in the region fell by half (51%).

But to get on track to end AIDS by 2030, he said Caribbean countries must step up the pace around prevention, testing, treatment, care and ending stigma and discrimination. By 2020, 82% of people living with HIV in the region were diagnosed. Two thirds (67%) of all people living with HIV were on treatment, and 59% were virally suppressed.

While new HIV infections have fallen by 28% since 2010, the rate of decline is too slow. Overall, members of key population communities and their partners accounted for 60% of new HIV infections in 2020. Around one-third of new HIV infections were among young people aged 15–24 years.

Speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Regional Network of People Living with HIV (CRN+), Ms Diana Weekes noted that key structural barriers continue to block access to HIV prevention, treatment and care services. These include “stigma and discrimination … lack of privacy, breach of confidentiality and limited redress” when people’s rights have been violated. She noted that no country in the region had adopted the CARICOM Model Anti-discrimination legislation, which was developed almost a decade ago. CRN+ called for greater emphasis on policy and legislative changes and community-led responses to address these structural barriers.

Mr Ivan Cruickshank, the Executive Director of the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC), pointed to regional data that show that HIV disproportionately affects key populations, including gay men and other men who have sex with men, transgender people, sex workers and people who use drugs.

“According to the latest UNAIDS report, nations with progressive laws and policies, as well as robust and inclusive health systems, have had the best HIV outcomes. Therefore, we must create inclusive societies in which people are confident in their ability to seek medical treatment and exercise their social and economic rights. We must go beyond declarations to remove laws that continue to criminalize communities and limit young people’s access to sexual and reproductive health and rights,” Mr Cruickshank said.

The Guyana Health Minister and Caribbean representative on the UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board, Dr Frank Anthony, reaffirmed the region’s commitment to the HIV response, saying that “governments in the region stand ready to do their part in ending AIDS by 2030.”

He pointed to longstanding challenges in the region, such as “removing the legal obstacles that foster discriminatory practices” and “prevention sustainability.” But he also emphasized the new threat posed by COVID-19, noting that “finite financial resources had to be reprogrammed to meet these urgent demands.” He called for increased vaccine equity and a review of plans to transition countries in the region away from international HIV funding.

“We must use the platform available to us at this United Nations High-level meeting to ensure that we highlight our vulnerabilities to the HIV epidemic and the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

During discussions, civil society participants also emphasized the profound negative impact of COVID-19 containment measures on lives and livelihoods. They said there was an additional need for solutions to provide nutrition, mental health and financial support to People Living with HIV and members of key population communities.

The Director of the UNAIDS New York Liaison Office, Mr César Núñez, noted that in response to both HIV and COVID-19, the role of communities is clear.

“The response must include a key role for civil society at the table when frameworks are being put together and implemented,” he said.

Mr Núñez ended by calling for CARICOM’s support in securing an ambitious, action-oriented and laser-focused political declaration.

PANCAP Meeting opens with Call to sustain HIV Response as Public Health Systems are challenged with COVID-19

Wednesday, 2 June 2021 (PANCAP Coordinating Unit, CARICOM Secretariat): The Pan-Caribbean Partnership against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP), the mechanism that provides a structured and unified approach to the Caribbean’s response to the HIV epidemic, commenced the Second Special Meeting of National AIDS Programme (NAP) Managers and Key Partners (Virtual), Wednesday, 2 June 2021.   The three-day meeting focused on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on national and regional HIV programmes.  The meeting also discussed how countries are coping and adjusting programme delivery during COVID-19 to ensure sustainability.

In his opening remarks, Dr Rosmond Adams, Director, PANCAP, acknowledged that COVID-19 had exposed weaknesses in health systems at the global, regional and national levels. “It is important for us to ensure that the gains made against HIV that are threatened by the disruptions caused by the pandemic are maintained and that we continue to work as a Region to end AIDS by 2030”, stated Dr Adams.

Dr Adams underscored that the epidemic is fueled by stigma and discrimination, marginalisation and criminalisation of communities and lack of access to health, education and other essential services.  He also emphasised that the widening inequity gaps further compounded these factors. Key populations and their partners continue to be disproportionately affected by the epidemic.

The PANCAP Director reiterated PANCAP’s commitment to work with countries and Key Partners to ensure that no one is left behind. “We will continue to advocate for increased domestic funding for HIV”, stated Dr Adams, “We continue to encourage countries to engage Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and communities by investing in civil society and community-led responses that tailor approaches to the needs of affected communities, particularly Key Populations, and to build strong primary health care systems that can deliver quality, people-centred care”.

Mr Tyrone Ellis, Chair, Caribbean Regional Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (CRN+), led the meeting in a moment of silence to acknowledge persons who have died from AIDS and COVID-19 in the past year.

“With access to overall health care reduced during this pandemic, lockdowns and physical distancing exposed marginalised populations to a host of other threats including intimate partner violence, income loss, homelessness, and anxiety,” stated the CRN+ Chair.  He expressed gratitude to health care professionals for continuing to offer HIV prevention, treatment, care and support during COVID-19.

Ms Aldora Robinson, Director of Health Promotion and Advocacy Unit, Ministry of Health, Agriculture and Human Services, Turks and Caicos Islands, underscored that there are still gaps in HIV services.  She urged stakeholders to find ways to link mental health resources and People Living with HIV (PLHIV).  She explained that this intervention would make HIV care and treatment for clients more impactful and holistic, especially during COVID-19. She also illustrated how COVID-19 has disrupted services, interrupted supply chains and caused persons to access HIV prevention, care and treatment differently. “These disruptions must be overcome, and lessons must be learned as we move forward”, stated Ms Robinson.

Ms Victoria Nibarger, PEPFAR Coordinator, Caribbean Regional Program, reiterated the U.S. Government’s gratitude to NAP Managers, CSO representatives and key stakeholders for their continued commitment to combating HIV, especially with the COVID-19 challenge.  She highlighted that the U.S. Government had provided more than $55 Million United States dollars in assistance to Caribbean countries to help meet COVID-19 related needs.  “These funds have supported emergency response, risk communications, surveillance, lab capacity, and more”, stated the PEPFAR Coordinator, “ In addition, specific to HIV, our Caribbean team has provided critical food and travel support for vulnerable individuals, as well as personal protective equipment and sanitisers, helping to keep both clients and healthcare workers safe”.

Ms Nibarger highlighted that the Region could anticipate additional new funding via the American Rescue Plan Act, to support the recovery of HIV programmes from COVID-19 related impact and prevent further damage. “For Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago alone, we have received approval for an additional $1 million United States dollars in assistance, which will help meet needs in lab, mental health, vaccine advocacy, and more,” stated the PEPFAR Coordinator.

In addition, Ms Nibarger explained that the Caribbean Regional PEPFAR Program received approval for the next Regional Operational Plan. “We are so happy to report that we have received a budget increase, to more than $23 Million United States dollars, which we will use to support activities in Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, as well as regional programming via PANCAP”, stated the PEPFAR Coordinator.   She also said that PEPFAR is pleased to have the opportunity to extend programming in Guyana, where an additional $1.5 Million United States dollars will be provided to the government and civil society partners through fall 2022.

“We also have separate PEPFAR programmes in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, so it’s a robust presence across the Caribbean – and a signal of our unwavering commitment to working hand-in-hand to see an AIDS-free future for the Region,” stated Ms Nibarger.

Dr James Guwani, Director, UNAIDS Caribbean Sub-Regional Office, declared that 2021 was a year of renewal — an opportunity to take stock of progress, reflect on lessons learned, and lay the groundwork for more optimised HIV responses in the future.  He acknowledged the achievements of National AIDS Programmes and Health Ministries, supported by civil society and the development community to provide treatment to all despite challenges with existing antiretroviral therapy protocols. He reported that at the end of 2020, 82% of PLHIV in the Caribbean were diagnosed, two-thirds of PLHIV were on treatment, and 59% of PLHIV were virally suppressed.

Dr Guwani highlighted that the expansion of rapid testing, community-based testing and more streamlined lab services has contributed to four in five PLHIV being aware of their status by the end of 2020.  However, he underscored that there is a clear path toward even better results.

While referring to the need to address the social determinants that lead to new HIV infections, delayed diagnosis and poor adherence, Dr Guwani urged all stakeholders to ensure that their concerns are included in the 2021 Political Declaration. He also advocated for all stakeholders to participate at the upcoming United Nations General Assembly High-Level Meeting on HIV and AIDS 2021.

Mr Dean Chambliss, Sub-regional Director for the Caribbean, PAHO/WHO, reiterated  PAHO’s commitment to working with its Member States to expand HIV prevention and treatment services based on global evidence-based interventions; while at the same time ensuring universal access and coverage are guaranteed for everyone, including vulnerable populations

He advised that as countries advance in the expansion and provision of high-quality HIV prevention and treatment services, it was necessary to note that achieving universal access and coverage requires a robust integrated approach.  The approach should include integrating services for HIV within primary care facilities and other health conditions, such as other sexually transmitted infections that have not received the same level of attention as HIV.  “Global evidence clearly shows a link between STIs and HIV, and therefore an investment in STIs is an investment in HIV prevention”, stated Mr Chambliss.

He explained that the integration of HIV with Viral hepatitis is of utmost significance as countries advance with the implementation of Pre-exposure prophylaxis (or PrEP) for key populations.  “We know that both Hepatitis B and C are bloodborne, share similar modes of transmission as HIV, and affect key populations”, stated Mr Chambliss, “WHO estimates that Hepatitis C virus affects 2–15% of PLHIV worldwide and up to 90% of those are people who inject drugs”.  He also emphasised that Chronic Hepatitis B viral infection affects an estimated 5–20% of PLHIV.

Based on PAHO’s estimates for the Caribbean, there are approximately 887,000 people chronically infected with Hepatitis B and 240,000 with chronic hepatitis C.  The profiles of these individuals are unknown. Therefore, integrating services for viral hepatitis with HIV will spotlight the public health problem while giving the Region better information on who is affected.

Dr Douglas Slater, Assistant Secretary-General, Human and Social Development, CARICOM Secretariat, applauded the Region’s Public Health workers.  He indicated that a key objective during this time is protecting the gains made in the HIV response as Public Health systems are challenged with managing COVID-19.

He also acknowledged the immense gains the Region has made in the HIV response.  “Through collaborative efforts of CARICOM-PANCAP and Member States, the Caribbean has seen significant achievements at the end of 2019, including a decline in overall regional prevalence from 2.2 % to less than 1.1% in 2019; a decrease in new HIV infections by 29% in the Region since 2010, a reduction in AIDS-related deaths by 37% since 2010 and total antiretroviral treatment coverage for the Region was 63%–71% for women and 56% for men (compared to 5% in 2001).

Dr Slater recognised the tremendous progress with the Elimination of Mother-to-child Transmission of HIV in eight countries, including Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Cuba, Dominica, Montserrat and Saint Kitts and Nevis.

The ASG underscored that beyond COVID-19, the Region’s HIV response mandate had expanded significantly with the new targets set out in the UNAIDS’ “Global AIDS Strategy 2021–2026, End Inequalities, End AIDS.”  He reminded participants that Member States have bold new targets and policies to be reached by 2025.

“We already have a roadmap for achieving the targets of the new strategy”, stated Dr Slater, “the theme of ending inequalities and access to health for all is embodied in the PANCAP Model Anti-discrimination Legislation, which despite extensive engagement by PANCAP, has not yet been adopted by any Member State.  Propelled by the new Global AIDS Strategy, it’s time that we change this”.

Dr Slater concluded the opening ceremony by applauding the participants for their dedication to the HIV response, “I challenge you to ensure your voice is heard as we face the challenges of COVID-19 and propel the Region’s HIV response to new heights of success”.

– ENDS –

Contact:

Timothy Austin

Senior Project Officer, Communications

PANCAP Coordinating Unit

CARICOM Secretariat

Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana

Email:      taustin.consultant@caricom.org

Tel: (592) 222-0001-75, Ext. 3409  | Visit www.PANCAP.org

Helpful links:

Global AIDS Strategy 2021–2026, End Inequalities, End AIDS

https://pancap.org/pancap-documents/global-aids-strategy-2021-2026-end-inequalities-end-aids/

Caribbean Regional Strategic Framework on HIV and AIDS (CRSF) 2019-2025

https://pancap.org/pancap-documents/caribbean-regional-strategic-framework-2019-2025/

WHAT IS PANCAP?

PANCAP is a Caribbean regional partnership of governments, regional civil society organisations, regional institutions and organisations, bilateral and multilateral agencies and contributing donor partners which was established on 14 February 2001. PANCAP provides a structured and unified approach to the Caribbean’s response to the HIV epidemic, coordinates the response through the Caribbean Regional Strategic Framework on HIV and AIDS to maximise efficient use of resources and increase impact, mobilises resources and build capacity of partners.

EDITOR’S NOTES

What are the Global AIDS Strategy 2021–2026 targets and commitments?

If targets and commitments in the strategy are achieved:

  • The number of people who newly acquire HIV will decrease from 1.7 million in 2019 to less than 370 000 by 2025
  • The number of people dying from AIDS-related illnesses will decrease from 690 000 in 2019 to less than 250 000 in 2025.
  • The goal of eliminating new HIV infections among children will see the number of new HIV infections drop from 150 000 in 2019 to less than 22 000 in 2025.

GAINS MADE IN THE REGION’S HIV RESPONSE

  • Through collaborative efforts of CARICOM-PANCAP and Member States, the Caribbean has seen significant achievements at the end of 2019, including a decline in overall regional prevalence from 2.2 % to less than 1.1% in 2019; a decrease in new HIV infections by 29% in the Region since 2010, a reduction in AIDS-related deaths by 37% since 2010 and total antiretroviral treatment coverage for the Region was 63%–71% for women and 56% for men (compared to 5% in 2001).
  • In 2019, 77% of People Living with HIV in the Caribbean knew their status; 81% of those diagnosed were on treatment, and 80% of those on antiretroviral therapy were virally suppressed.
  • The Region achieved tremendous progress with the Elimination of Mother-to-child Transmission of HIV in eight countries, including Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Montserrat and Saint Kitts and Nevis. Cuba became the first country in the world to achieve elimination in 2015.

Regional Stakeholders to discuss Scaling Up and Sustaining the Regional HIV Response during COVID-19

Tuesday, 18 May 2021 (PANCAP Coordinating Unit, CARICOM Secretariat): The Pan-Caribbean Partnership against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP), the mechanism that provides a structured and unified approach to the Caribbean’s response to the HIV epidemic,  will convene a virtual three-day meeting of National AIDS Programme (NAP) Managers, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and Key Partners, 2 – 4 June 2021 to discuss the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on national and regional HIV programmes.  The meeting will also discuss how countries are coping and adjusting programme delivery during COVID-19 to ensure sustainability.

Stakeholders will also decide how the Partnership and Key partners can support countries in ensuring programme continuity despite disruptions.

The meeting is occurring several weeks after the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) launch of the Global AIDS Strategy 2021–2026, End Inequalities, End AIDS.  The strategy focuses on inequalities and closing the gaps hindering progress to end AIDS.  It sets out new targets and policies to be reached by 2025.

Dr Rosmond Adams, Director, PANCAP, stated that the meeting is critical to the new trajectory of the Region’s HIV response as countries continue to be challenged by COVID-19.

“A survey conducted by PANCAP and Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) last year showed that during 2020, facility-and community- based HIV testing services reduced by two-thirds (69%) in countries due to COVID-19”, stated Dr Adams, “The meeting will facilitate essential discussions on how national programmes and civil society organisations can collaborate to ensure continuity of access to HIV prevention, care and treatment for the most vulnerable populations”.

The PANCAP Director also expressed concern about protecting the gains made in the HIV response even as the Region is experiencing another wave of COVID-19 infections.  “COVID-19 has strained health systems and exposed gaps in public health”, stated the PANCAP Director, “From the highest levels of national leadership to community-based health facilities, human, financial, and research resources were diverted from HIV efforts”.

He indicated that it is critical for stakeholders at the upcoming meeting to reach a consensus on advocating and encouraging governments and policymakers to increase, maintain, and guard domestic resources allocated for HIV.

The forum is also occurring as the world marks 40 years since the first cases of AIDS were reported and prior to the upcoming United Nations General Assembly High-Level Meeting on HIV and AIDS 2021. The outcome of the meeting will determine the continued success of the HIV response in the face of strained public health systems and what the response will look like in the post-COVID Caribbean.

– ENDS –

Contact:

Timothy Austin

Senior Project Officer, Communications

PANCAP Coordinating Unit

CARICOM Secretariat

Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana

Email:      taustin.consultant@caricom.org

Tel: (592) 222-0001-75, Ext. 3409  | Visit www.PANCAP.org

Helpful links:

Global AIDS Strategy 2021–2026, End Inequalities, End AIDS

https://pancap.org/pancap-documents/global-aids-strategy-2021-2026-end-inequalities-end-aids/

Caribbean Regional Strategic Framework on HIV and AIDS (CRSF) 2019-2025

https://pancap.org/pancap-documents/caribbean-regional-strategic-framework-2019-2025/

WHAT IS PANCAP?

PANCAP is a Caribbean regional partnership of governments, regional civil society organisations, regional institutions and organisations, bilateral and multilateral agencies and contributing donor partners which was established on 14 February 2001. PANCAP provides a structured and unified approach to the Caribbean’s response to the HIV epidemic, coordinates the response through the Caribbean Regional Strategic Framework on HIV and AIDS to maximise efficient use of resources and increase impact, mobilises resources and build capacity of partners.

EDITOR’S NOTES

What are the Global AIDS Strategy 2021–2026 targets and commitments?

If targets and commitments in the strategy are achieved:

  • The number of people who newly acquire HIV will decrease from 1.7 million in 2019 to less than 370 000 by 2025
  • The number of people dying from AIDS-related illnesses will decrease from 690 000 in 2019 to less than 250 000 in 2025.
  • The goal of eliminating new HIV infections among children will see the number of new HIV infections drop from 150 000 in 2019 to less than 22 000 in 2025.

GAINS MADE IN THE REGION’S HIV RESPONSE

  • Through collaborative efforts of CARICOM-PANCAP and Member States, the Caribbean has seen significant achievements at the end of 2019, including a decline in overall regional prevalence from 2.2 % to less than 1.1% in 2019; a decrease in new HIV infections by 29% in the Region since 2010, a reduction in AIDS-related deaths by 37% since 2010 and total antiretroviral treatment coverage for the Region was 63%–71% for women and 56% for men (compared to 5% in 2001).
  • In 2019, 77% of People Living with HIV in the Caribbean knew their status; 81% of those diagnosed were on treatment, and 80% of those on antiretroviral therapy were virally suppressed.
  • The Region achieved tremendous progress with the Elimination of Mother-to-child Transmission of HIV in seven countries, including Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Montserrat and Saint Kitts and Nevis, in 2017. Cuba became the first country in the world to achieve elimination in 2015.

Dominica eliminates Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV and Syphilis

The country is the eighth in the Caribbean to receive validation from WHO for the dual elimination. New HIV infections among children in the Caribbean declined by nearly 40% between 2019 and 2010. Reported cases of congenital syphilis are at 9.6 cases per 100,000 newborns, well below the goal of no more than 50 cases per 100,000 newborns.

Washington, D.C., May 14, 2021 (PAHO) – Dominica today celebrated its World Health Organization certification for the elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis. With the achievement, Dominica joined seven other Caribbean countries that have received the dual validation, demonstrating continuing regional progress against the two diseases.

During a virtual celebration today, Dominica Prime Minister Hon. Roosevelt Skerrit said “what we are celebrating here is truly a remarkable achievement. Eliminating mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis as a public health concern requires the strengthening of primary prevention and treatment services for HIV and syphilis for pregnant women within an established and successful maternal, perinatal and child health services.”

Dr Carissa F. Etienne, WHO Regional Director for the Americas and Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), said, “Dominica’s journey to this ambitious achievement represents a cumulation of years of expanding the capacity of its primary care services to address communicable diseases and adopting harmonized and integrated approaches to improving the health outcomes for women and their children within maternal and child health services.”

While Dominica received the certificate for elimination during the ceremony today, the country was recommended by WHO for certification last September.

New HIV infections among children in the Caribbean declined by nearly 40% between 2019 and 2010 – the year that the Regional Initiative for the Elimination of Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV and Congenital Syphilis in Latin America and the Caribbean was launched. During that period, the number of cases declined from 3,400 to 1,500. Reported cases of congenital syphilis in the Caribbean are now at 9.6 cases per 100,000 newborns, well below the goal of no more than 50 cases per 100,000 newborns.

The seven other Caribbean countries and territories that have received the dual certification are Cuba in 2015 and Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Montserrat and Saint Kitts and Nevis in 2017. Worldwide, the rest of the countries that have received the certification include Maldives (2019), Sri Lanka (2019), Malaysia (2018), and Armenia (HIV only), Belarus and Moldova (syphilis only), and Thailand (HIV and syphilis) in 2016.

Dr James Guwani, Director for the Caribbean Sub-regional Office of UNAIDS, noted that Dominica’s success brings the country and region a step closer to ending AIDS. “Dominica’s achievement in ensuring that its children are born free of HIV is truly inspiring and is testament to the combined strength and leadership of government, civil society activists and communities living with and affected by HIV. By putting people first, we can end the AIDS epidemic,” he asserted.

Jean Gough, UNICEF’s Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, said, “From now on, every child will be born free of HIV and congenital syphilis in Dominica. No mother will transmit these diseases to her children. Today is a moment of pride for the country, but also a source of hope for many others in Latin America and the Caribbean.”

Dr Rosmond Adams, Director of the Pan Caribbean Partnership against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP), described the elimination as remarkable. “This is a commitment by Dominica that no child is born with HIV or congenital syphilis. It is also an indication of the country’s commitment and the hard work of the health care providers to reduce new HIV infections, which is a key strategy towards achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.”

Dominica’s efforts to achieve elimination were intensified and accelerated under the umbrella of the Regional Initiative for the Elimination of Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV and Congenital Syphilis in Latin America and the Caribbean, coordinated by PAHO and UNICEF with support from other regional partners.

LINKS

Virtual celebration of certification of elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis (English)

Virtual celebration of certification of elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis (Spanish)

Global Validation of Elimination of Mother-to-Child Transmission (EMTCT) of HIV and Syphilis

Regional Initiative for Elimination of Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV and Congenital Syphilis in Latin America and the Caribbean

Video – Dominica’s Road to EMTCT Validation

Regional Public Health Practitioners to benefit from Clinical Management of HIV course

Friday, 12 March 2021 (PANCAP Coordinating Unit, CARICOM Secretariat): The Pan-Caribbean Partnership against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP), the mechanism that provides a structured and unified approach to the Caribbean’s response to the HIV epidemic, is facilitating an exciting educational and capacity building opportunity for Public Health practitioners working in the Region’s HIV response.

PANCAP is providing financial support for twenty (20) Public Health practitioners to attend the Clinical Management of HIV course at the University of Washington Global Health E-Learning Program. The course provides a global perspective on the diagnoses and clinical management of HIV. Participants will learn from experts in the field, who offer real-world examples of diagnosing and treating HIV and STIs in both resource-rich and resource-constrained settings, with a focus on using US-based guidelines. The course will commence in April 2021.

During a virtual orientation, Dr Rosmond Adams, Director, PANCAP, highlighted that the course is happening at a critical time when Public Health Practitioners are challenged with maintaining the HIV response while tackling COVID-19.

“Our public health practitioners have mounted an extraordinary response to COVID-19”, stated Dr Adams, “Within a few months, the Region reacted with COVID-19 testing, appropriate safety measures and public health education. Now we’re witnessing the rollout of effective COVID-19 vaccines within a year after the start of the pandemic. Our healthcare workers were responding to COVID-19 while maintaining the gains made in the HIV response. PANCAP is pleased to enhance their ability to test, treat and provide care for HIV by facilitating access to the course”.

Dr Shanti Singh-Anthony, Coordinator, Knowledge Management, PANCAP, explained that the online graduate-level course consists of video lectures, readings, discussion forums, and quizzes. She emphasised that group participation is encouraged as it provides a platform for discussing course concepts and applying them to the Caribbean.

Dr Singh-Anthony further highlighted that the course is part of PANCAP’s overarching Knowledge Management strategy to empower regional public health practitioners to achieve the 2030 goal of ending AIDS through providing the requisite capacity building, training and knowledge.

The course is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through support to the PANCAP Coordinating Unit. Mr Jason Fraser, USAID Country Representative, noted that they are indeed glad to support this initiative to build capacity as the Region advances action towards ending AIDS.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Guyana, Mr Malcolm Watkins, thanked PANCAP for spearheading this initiative and stated that it would build capacity for practitioners working in HIV to advance national and international targets.

Participants include Medical Doctors, Nurses, Physician assistants/Medexes, National AIDS Programme Managers, and Civil Society Organisation (CSO) representatives with clinical backgrounds.

The course is only the first phase of a planned capacity building initiative by PANCAP, encompassing more training opportunities and virtual courses for Public Health practitioners working in the Region’s HIV response.

      – ENDS –

Contact:
Timothy Austin
Senior Project Officer, Communications
PANCAP Coordinating Unit
CARICOM Secretariat
Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana
Email: taustin.consultant@caricom.org
Tel: (592) 222-0001-75, Ext. 3409 | Visit www.PANCAP.org

Helpful links:

Clinical Management of HIV course web page
https://edgh.washington.edu/courses/clinical-management-hiv

What is PANCAP?

PANCAP is a Caribbean regional partnership of governments, regional civil society organisations, regional institutions and organisations, bilateral and multilateral agencies and contributing donor partners which was established on 14 February 2001. PANCAP provides a structured and unified approach to the Caribbean’s response to the HIV epidemic, coordinates the response through the Caribbean Regional Strategic Framework on HIV and AIDS to maximise efficient use of resources and increase impact, mobilises resources and build capacity of partners.

As COVID-19 reduces access to HIV testing services, AIDS response partners call for Caribbean countries to adopt HIV self-testing

KINGSTON, 1 December 2020—On the occasion of World AIDS Day, Caribbean AIDS response stakeholders are calling for countries in the region to adopt HIV self-testing. During the virtual launch of the “In Your Hands” Caribbean HIV self-testing campaign yesterday, partners advocated for self-testing policies to be developed and implemented as part of a comprehensive strategy to ensure that HIV diagnosis does not decline during the COVID-19 pandemic. The advocacy campaign is jointly endorsed by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Pan Caribbean Partnership against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP), President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Caribbean Med Labs Foundation (CMLF).

To achieve the Fast Track targets that would set countries on course to end AIDS by 2030, it is imperative that people living with HIV are diagnosed early, start treatment right away and achieve an undetectable viral load. People who are virally suppressed are not able to transmit the virus. Testing is the critical first pillar of this “treatment as prevention” strategy.

Even before COVID-19, the Caribbean was not on track to achieve the 90-90-90 testing and treatment targets due at the end of 2020. In 2019 77% of all people living with HIV in the Caribbean knew their status, 81% of diagnosed people were on treatment, and 80% of those on antiretroviral therapy were virally suppressed. A survey conducted by PANCAP and PAHO showed that during 2020, facility-and community- based HIV testing services reduced in two-thirds (69%) of countries due to COVID-19.

“This decline means that people with undiagnosed HIV are not getting life-saving antiretroviral treatment and, of course, continue to be unaware of their HIV status with the risk of potentially exposing others,” said Ms Sandra Jones,  PAHO’s Technical Advisor for HIV/STI, TB & Viral Hepatitis in the Caribbean.

“The COVID-19 pandemic… has presented the opportunity for us to explore new and innovative approaches that are result-oriented. We cannot sit and continue to debate how we can increase the number of people who know their HIV status without seizing the opportunity to explore and implement initiatives such as HIV self-testing,” PANCAP Director, Dr Rosmond Adams said.

According to UNAIDS Caribbean Sub-regional Office Director, Dr James Guwani, it is particularly important to increase testing uptake among men who are more likely to be diagnosed late. In 2019 85% of Caribbean women living with HIV were aware of their status as compared to 72% of men. There is also a need to increase testing coverage among members of key population communities who have reduced access to HIV services due to stigma and discrimination.

HIV self-testing is a process whereby a person collects saliva or pinprick blood specimen, performs a test, and receives the result in private. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that HIV self-testing be offered as an additional approach to the facility- and community-based services. Evidence shows that self-testing is safe and accurate and increases testing uptake among people who may not test otherwise. National policies should include a communication package with information to link testers to prevention and treatment services, as well as minimum standards for the procurement and distribution of HIV self-test kits in the private and public sectors.

“We strongly believe that HIV self-testing can help close the gap in the First 90. It can be targeted to individuals not being reached by existing HIV testing services, particularly those populations with low testing coverage and at high risk of HIV. It’s not a replacement for all testing services, but it should be included in the toolbox,” said Mrs Victoria Nibarger, PEPFAR Caribbean Regional Programme Coordinator.

At the launch, leaders from communities of people living with HIV and key populations endorsed the call for HIV self-testing. At the same time, they advised that increased investments are needed in post-test counselling and adherence counselling for the entire HIV response.

According to CMLF Director, Valerie Wilson, under the Global Fund Project for the region and in collaboration with PANCAP, the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC), the Centre for Orientation and Integral Research (COIN), the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States HIV/TB Elimination Project and PAHO, work is underway to conduct verification and feasibility assessment for the introduction of HIV self-testing within the region.

“HIV self-testing has the potential to be a high impact, low-cost intervention to reach population groups that are not testing and to increase the number of people living with HIV who are identified and have initiated treatment,” Mrs Wilson said.

Priority Areas Coordinating Committee (PACC) convenes virtual meeting to discuss the continuity of HIV services during COVID-19

Wednesday, 24 June 2020 (PANCAP Coordinating Unit, CARICOM Secretariat): The Pan-Caribbean Partnership against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP), the mechanism that provides a structured and unified approach to the Caribbean’s response to the HIV epidemic continues to examine strategies to sustain the HIV and AIDS response in the Caribbean region despite disruptions from the ongoing COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic.

The 39th Meeting of the Priority Areas Coordinating Committee (PACC), the PANCAP governance body that focuses on coordinating regional priority areas plans, was convened 23 – 24 June 2020 under the chairmanship of Dr Donald T. Simeon, Professor of Biostatistics and Research, Faculty of Medical Sciences, The University of the West Indies, St Augustine, Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

The PACC received updates from the Director, PANCAP, Dr Rosmond Adams on the work that the Partnership has implemented to respond to COVID-19 and sustaining the HIV response. Dr Adams stated that it is critical especially at this time to ensure the continuity of care in the region and to advocate for maintaining the gains as the Region works towards the UNAIDS 90-90-90 Targets and ending AIDS.

Dr Shanti Singh-Anthony, Coordinator, Knowledge Management, PANCAP Coordinating Unit, provided an update on the knowledge management, marketing and communications initiatives implemented by PANCAP in response to COVID-19.  She highlighted that the PANCAP Knowledge Management hub continues to share information and guidelines to support National AIDS Programmes and Civil Society Organizations in service delivery and mitigating the impact of COVID-19.

The PACC also received updates from the various Technical Working Groups (TWGs).  Ms Curvelle David, Senior Project Officer, Monitoring and Evaluation (M and E), Strategic Management Unit, CARICOM Secretariat, provided an update on the Regional M and E TWG on Health.  She emphasised the need to strengthen data collection and the use of information to guide strategic action to strengthen the regional response.

The meeting also received updates from the Policy and Strategy Working Group on Stigma and Discrimination.  Mr Lucien Govaard, Vice-Chair, outlined how the lessons learned from HIV and AIDS can be translated to supporting the COVID-19 response in tackling issues around stigma and discrimination.

Mr Kevin Mendez, Chair, PANCAP Regional Youth Advocacy Steering Committee for the implementation of Regional Youth Advocacy Framework on Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights, reported on initiatives by youth leaders to engage the region’s young people on issues related to HIV and COVID-19.  The activities included capacity building and training on HIV prevention and supporting COVID-19 issues.

The meeting also received updates from key partners including the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) and The University of the West Indies (UWI).

The PACC noted the challenges faced by the region including prevention services, treatment, care and human rights-based issues. The PACC committed to engaging with policymakers on support for the regional response, including increasing domestic funding for national HIV programmes.  The PACC also pledged support for documentation of the progress and best practices in the Region and to advocate for strengthening supply chain management to minimise interruption in the availability of antiretrovirals (ARVs) and other commodities for the Region.

The PACC also noted that safeguarding providers and clients from COVID-19 is critical and supporting safe and sustained HIV service must continue with a focus on Key Populations.

– ENDS –

Contact:

Timothy Austin

Senior Project Officer, Communications

PANCAP Coordinating Unit

CARICOM Secretariat

Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana

Email:      taustin.consultant@caricom.org

Tel: (592) 222-0001-75, Ext. 3409  | Visit www.PANCAP.org

Helpful links:

Global AIDS Update 2018 – Miles to Go

https://pancap.org/pancap-documents/global-aids-update-2018-miles-to-go/

Caribbean Regional Strategic Framework on HIV and AIDS (CRSF) 2019-2025 

https://pancap.org/pancap-documents/caribbean-regional-strategic-framework-2019-2025/

What is PANCAP?

PANCAP is a Caribbean regional partnership of governments, regional civil society organisations, regional institutions and organisations, bilateral and multilateral agencies and contributing donor partners which was established on 14 February 2001. PANCAP provides a structured and unified approach to the Caribbean’s response to the HIV epidemic, coordinates the response through the Caribbean Regional Strategic Framework on HIV and AIDS to maximise efficient use of resources and increase impact, mobilises resources and build capacity of partners.

Editor’s Notes

What are the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) 90-90-90 Targets?

  • By 2020, 90% of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status.
  • By 2020, 90% of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy.
  • By 2020, 90% of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression.

NAP Managers and CSOs urged to use COVID-19 as an opportunity to advance the HIV gains for the Caribbean

Monday, 22 June 2020 (PANCAP Coordinating Unit, CARICOM Secretariat): The Pan-Caribbean Partnership against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP), the mechanism that provides a structured and unified approach to the Caribbean’s response to the HIV epidemic,  convened a virtual three-day meeting of National AIDS Programme (NAP) Managers, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and Key Partners, 16 – 18 June 2020 to discuss the challenges and strategies that are being implemented in the region to respond to the disruption of services posed by the ongoing COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Pandemic.

The meeting examined the challenges experienced by the region in the delivery of services for HIV and AIDS in the context of COVID-19, the sustainability of the regional response amidst decreasing donor funding and the critical role of civil society in supporting the continuity of care and reaching Key Populations.

Ms Victoria Nibarger, PEPFAR Coordinator, Caribbean Regional Program, Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator and Health Diplomacy (S/GAC), Jamaica stated that as the Region experiences unprecedented times with the COVID-19 pandemic, the NAP Managers and Key Partners Meeting is more important than ever, as it will enable the exchange of vital information and learning for the dual pandemics. She commended the PANCAP team for providing leadership at an incredibly challenging time.  She highlighted that this ability to adapt and forge ahead has been “truly impressive”.

In his remarks, Director of PANCAP, Dr Rosmond Adams highlighted the critical need for National AIDS Programme (NAP) Managers and Civil Society Organisations to share knowledge and innovations which are essential for the continuity of HIV services during the COVID-19 Pandemic.  He thanked the participants for committing to the meeting and stated that he was pleased that PANCAP could provide the virtual platform essential for knowledge sharing about HIV and COVID-19.  He further called for the exploration of new and innovative strategies and greater collaboration among governments, civil society, private sector and community-based organisations with the overarching aim of ending AIDS in the region.

The meeting received updates from Member Countries and Civil Society Organizations on the work that they are doing to respond to the disruptions and to sustain national responses. Ms Aldora Robinson, Director of the Health Promotion and Advocacy Unit within the Ministry of Health, Agriculture and Human Services, Turks and Caicos Islands and the National AIDS Programme Managers Representative on the PANCAP Governance Bodies stated that while these are unprecedented times, there are lessons learnt from the HIV response that can be applied to the COVID-19 response.

She underscored that the gains made in the HIV response could easily be reversed unless urgent efforts are made to sustain the progress made thus far. She stated, “while it may seem that we are at risk of losing momentum in the HIV and AIDS response let me assure you that if we continue to do what we have always done including sensitization of vulnerable groups, collation of statistics, instituting preventative measures, administering treatment, putting people at the centre and strongly engaging our civil society, we will get through this unpredictable and highly dynamic situation.”

The meeting encouraged countries to continue to manage health resources wisely considering the numerous challenges faced by the region and to push for increased domestic resources for health and HIV responses as we move to end AIDS as a public health threat. Countries were encouraged to strengthen multisectoral collaboration, implement sustainability plans and to increase the use of data to guide strategic actions that will advance towards the UNAIDS 90-90-90 Targets.

The PAHO Subregional Program Coordinator for the Caribbean, Ms Jessie Schutt-Aine underscored that the COVID-19 pandemic has created new challenges in the HIV and STI response. She stated, “COVID-19 has created unprecedented conditions that hinder the capacity of many health systems to access COVID-19 related supplies but also other essential medicines, due to country lockdowns, travel restrictions, fragmented funding sources, and increased costs for certain commodities.  A recent study done by PAHO’s Strategic Fund has found that many countries in the Caribbean region are at imminent or high risk of stock out of essential medicines for HIV, STI, TB and other essential medicines.  This calls for the need to strengthen supply chain systems, including forecasting in the region”.

She highlighted that PAHO in collaboration with CARICOM and in support of Member States has been focusing on pooled procurement for essential COVID-19 items.

Dr James Guwani, UNAIDS Caribbean Sub-regional Office Director, highlighted that HIV stakeholders bring to the COVID-19 challenge almost forty years’ worth of experience and wisdom in responding to a pandemic. He stated “this is what we know: Testing and treatment on their own will not ensure we combat either COVID-19 or HIV. Community involvement and investment are vital to building trust and getting results. There must be responsiveness to the lived realities, needs and vulnerabilities of all people, especially the most marginalised. And we have to embrace big, bold targets if we are to super-charge our response.

The role of Civil Society Organizations was also underscored as they play a critical role in working at the community level to reach those most in need and to attend to the psychosocial needs of People Living with HIV. Dr Adams noted that civil society is key at getting to the core of the epidemic and that they should be supported and must have an equal seat at the table as a vital stakeholder in the fight against HIV and AIDS. He reiterated the presentation made by Mr Ivan Cruickshank, Executive Directors, Caribbean Vulnerable Coalition (CVC) that civil society must not be an “add-on” but should be an integral part of the multisectoral response.

The PANCAP Director in closing the meeting reminded participants that the work will continue and must continue and that we should not allow COVID-19 to make us push the pause button but to be a reason for us to fast forward and push for progress in the region. He further emphasised that we cannot speak about regional health security if we do not work towards ending AIDS by ensuring that there is a strong regional response to HIV and other communicable diseases.

Mr Winfield Tannis, HIV and AIDS Advocate, lit a candle to recognise the work that has been done throughout the region and to pay tribute to those who have died from AIDS.  He also explained that the candle lighting was also meant to pay homage to those working in the field of HIV and AIDS and to encourage them to continue with efforts to achieve the 90-90-90 Targets and ending AIDS by 2030.

– ENDS –

Contact:

Timothy Austin

Senior Project Officer, Communications

PANCAP Coordinating Unit

CARICOM Secretariat

Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana

Email:      taustin.consultant@caricom.org

Tel: (592) 222-0001-75, Ext. 3409  | Visit www.PANCAP.org

Helpful links:

Global AIDS Update 2018 – Miles to Go

https://pancap.org/pancap-documents/global-aids-update-2018-miles-to-go/

Caribbean Regional Strategic Framework on HIV and AIDS (CRSF) 2019-2025

https://pancap.org/pancap-documents/caribbean-regional-strategic-framework-2019-2025/

What is PANCAP?

PANCAP is a Caribbean regional partnership of governments, regional civil society organisations, regional institutions and organisations, bilateral and multilateral agencies and contributing donor partners which was established on 14 February 2001. PANCAP provides a structured and unified approach to the Caribbean’s response to the HIV epidemic, coordinates the response through the Caribbean Regional Strategic Framework on HIV and AIDS to maximise efficient use of resources and increase impact, mobilises resources and build capacity of partners.

Editor’s Notes

What are the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) 90-90-90 Targets?

  • By 2020, 90% of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status.
  • By 2020, 90% of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy.
  • By 2020, 90% of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression.

PANCAP advocates for treatment continuity for People Living with HIV during COVID-19 Pandemic

Friday, 24 April 2020 (PANCAP Coordinating Unit, CARICOM Secretariat): The Pan-Caribbean Partnership against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP), the mechanism that provides a structured and unified approach to the Caribbean’s response to the HIV epidemic, urges partners and stakeholders to ensure the continuity of treatment, care and support services for People Living with HIV (PLHIV) during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

According to Dr Rosmond Adams, Director, PANCAP, the Pandemic threatens to undo the gains made in the last ten years of the Region’s HIV response. He further noted that any disruption to care and treatment could pose significant threats and create additional burdens for National HIV and AIDS Programmes and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) that work with PLHIV and key population groups.

Measures to combat COVID-19 such as quarantines, curfews and social distancing can reduce the number of working hours and disrupt services for programmes responding to HIV and AIDS.  National programmes and CSOs are urged to adopt measures to ensure the continuity of care and treatment and support for viral suppression among PLHIV and to help those who are at risk of HIV acquisition to remain HIV negative.

The PANCAP Director noted that appropriate precautions and mitigation strategies must be developed and implemented across all public health sectors to prevent potentially devastating outcomes. He recommended that the following measures should be explored and adopted where possible:

  • Promote the use of social media channels or boost existing platforms to disseminate HIV programme messages, including those related to COVID-19
  • Ensure uninterrupted supply of commodities such as condoms and lubricants at community distribution points, including the provision of multimonth dispensing to allow for less frequent pickups where stock allows and,
  • Rapidly scale up multimonth dispensing (MMD) of Antiretrovirals (ART) and other medications for clients for 3-6 months if stocks allow.

In addition, Dr Adams noted that we must keep a close watch on Gender-Based Violence and violence against vulnerable populations as the pandemic can lead to increases in violence within relationships; this situation is likely to be exacerbated by forced physical distancing, shelter-in-place measures and by economic distress caused by job losses that will harm the most vulnerable first.

Dr Adams also noted that we must ensure that CSOs are involved in providing the support required by PLHIV in accessing health services during the Pandemic. He commended the CSOs working in HIV and AIDS that have also joined the COVID-19 response and are working alongside National Authorities to scale up the quick and targeted response.

PANCAP also welcomes the assertion by the President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) that “there is currently no direct evidence that people with HIV are at higher risk of COVID-19” and urges that all information shared about and with PLHIV should be based on empirical data.

PANCAP has commenced a multi-layered approach to the COVID-19 response.  This approach consists of a series of webinars aimed at building the capacity of National AIDS Programme Managers, CSOs, clinicians, doctors, youth leaders and other stakeholders in responding to the COVID-19 Pandemic.  PANCAP also initiated a public education programme to provide critical information to partners and stakeholders on COVID-19 guidance. It includes an interactive dashboard with data on the Caribbean and COVID-19 available on the PANCAP website, animated videos on COVID-19 prevention, digital posters on handwashing, advice on wearing masks and other essential information on combating COVID-19.  Materials can be accessed via the PANCAP website and social media platforms.

“PANCAP will continue to provide the support to National Programmes, CSOs and all stakeholders in the HIV response with initiatives that are community-led and based on human rights,” underscored Dr Adams. “It is critical that as we respond to COVID-19, we never lose sight of PANCAP’s vision of an AIDS-free Caribbean”.

–  ENDS –

Contact:
Timothy Austin
Senior Project Officer, Communications
PANCAP Coordinating Unit
CARICOM Secretariat
Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana
Email:      taustin.consultant@caricom.org
Tel: (592) 222-0001-06, Ext. 3409  | Visit www.PANCAP.org

Helpful links:

PEPFAR Technical Guidance in the Context of COVID-19 Pandemic

 https://pancap.org/pancap-documents/pepfar-technical-guidance-in-context-of-covid-19-pandemic/

 Rights in the time of COVID-19

 https://pancap.org/pancap-documents/rights-in-the-time-of-covid-19/

What is PANCAP?

PANCAP is a Caribbean regional partnership of governments, regional civil society organisations, regional institutions and organisations, bilateral and multilateral agencies and contributing donor partners which was established on 14 February 2001. PANCAP provides a structured and unified approach to the Caribbean’s response to the HIV epidemic, coordinates the response through the Caribbean Regional Strategic Framework on HIV and AIDS to maximise efficient use of resources and increase impact, mobilises resources and build capacity of partners.

Editor’s Notes

What are the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) 90-90-90 Targets?

  • By 2020, 90% of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status.
  • By 2020, 90% of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy.
  • By 2020, 90% of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression.

New PANCAP Director Appointed

Wednesday 26 February 2020 (PANCAP Coordinating Unit, CARICOM Secretariat): The Pan Caribbean Partnership against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP) welcomes the appointment of Dr Rosmond Adams as the new Director effective 2 March 2020.

 A Vincentian by birth, Dr Adams is a Medical Doctor by training and holds Master of Science degrees in both Public Health and Bioethics. He is a public health specialist with more than ten years of experience in the health sector both at the national and regional levels in the areas of surveillance, communicable diseases including HIV, emergency response and health security.

Dr Adams began his public health career as the Coordinator of the Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) programme in the Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. He then served as the National Epidemiologist where his work focused on strengthening public health surveillance and strategic information to guide health policy, programmes and action.

In his previous post, he served as the Head of Health Information, Communicable Diseases and Emergency Response at the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) where he led the development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the Caribbean Regional Health Security Strategy as a common strategic framework for the CARPHA Member States to strengthen their capacity to manage and respond to emerging disease threats and other public health emergencies.

Dr Adams serves on numerous national, regional and international public health advisory committees, including the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Coordinating Mechanism (GCM) on NCDs.  Asked about his immediate priority, the Director emphasised that the sustainability of the region’s HIV response is paramount.  “The HIV and AIDS epidemic is a threat to Regional Health Security considering that our productive population is being impacted,” stated Dr Adams, “I am optimistic that the region can end AIDS, but a lot of work must be done and the gains made so far must be sustained whilst ensuring that we scale up our response and renew our commitment to this goal”.

Dr Adams succeeds Mr Dereck Springer whose tenure ends on 28 February 2020.

 -ENDS –

What is PANCAP?

PANCAP is a Caribbean regional partnership of governments, regional civil society organisations, regional institutions and organisations, bilateral and multilateral agencies and contributing donor partners which was established on 14 February 2001. PANCAP provides a structured and unified approach to the Caribbean’s response to the HIV epidemic, coordinates the response through the Caribbean Regional Strategic Framework on HIV and AIDS to maximise efficient use of resources and increase impact, mobilises resources and build capacity of partners.

Contact:

Timothy Austin
Senior Project Officer, Communications
PANCAP Coordinating Unit
CARICOM Secretariat
Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana
Email:      taustin.consultant@caricom.org
Tel: (592) 222-0001-06, Ext. 3409  | Visit www.PANCAP.org

Helpful links:

History of PANCAP
https://pancap.org/who-we-are/about-pancap/history-of-pancap/

PANCAP’s achievements
https://pancap.org/who-we-are/about-pancap/achievements/

PANCAP’s Executive Board
https://pancap.org/who-we-are/governance-bodies/executive-board/