‘I don’t feel like I’m a threat anymore’.

Last year, Chris Kimmenez and his wife asked their doctors a simple question. Could Chris, who has been HIV-positive since 1989 but keeps the virus in check through medication, transmit it sexually to Paula?

They were pretty sure they knew the answer. Married for more than 30 years, they had not always practiced safe sex, but Paula showed no signs of having the virus.

Their physicians were less certain. “They had a conversation and they did some research on it,” Kimmenez said. “They came back to us and said there may still be a risk, but we’re comfortable enough” that unprotected sex is safe.

“We knew that all along,” said Kimmenez, 56, who works with sex-offenders in Philadelphia.

Simple acknowledgments like that one, spoken quietly in the privacy of doctors’ offices, mark the arrival of a historic moment in the history of HIV: Medical authorities are publicly agreeing that people with undetectable viral loads cannot transmit HIV.

The policy change has profound implications for the way people view the virus. It promises not just unprotected sex for couples like Kimmenez and his wife, but also reduced stigma for the 1.2 million Americans living with HIV. The change also offers the hope that more people will be tested and begin treatment if they are found to have the virus rather than live in denial.

“There was something in me that said I’m damaged and I made a mistake and people see it and I’m a danger,” said Mark S. King, 56, a writer and activist who tested positive for HIV in 1985. But now treatment has fully suppressed the virus. “When I finally internalized this message . . . something suddenly lifted off of me that is hard to describe. It was almost as if someone wiped me clean. I no longer feel like this diseased pariah.”

Once considered a death sentence, HIV infection can now be managed via medication, much like chronic diseases such as diabetes, and people with the virus live full lives. The rate of new infections in the United States dropped by 10 percent from 2010 to 2014, to 37,600 in 2014, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fewer than 7,000 people died of HIV/AIDS that year.

In July, Anthony S. Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and one of the world’s leading authorities on HIV, publicly agreed at an international conference that people with undetectable viral loads in their blood cannot transmit the virus.

On Sept. 27, the CDC followed, releasing a letter that said people who take medication daily “and achieve and maintain an undetectable viral load have effectively no risk of sexually transmitting the virus to an HIV-negative partner.”

The influential British medical journal the Lancet HIV endorsed the idea in an editorial this month. All told, more than 500 organizations in 67 countries now agree, according to Bruce Richman, who is leading the “Undetectable = Untransmittable” (U=U) campaign credited with beginning to change public perception of HIV transmissibility.

Like many developments in the four-decade history of HIV, this one has been slow to gain acceptance among mainstream health-care providers. Many are not aware of it or must unlearn the habit of drilling safe-sex lessons into patients, as they have been doing almost since the AIDS epidemic began. HIV-positive people also must alter deeply-ingrained beliefs that nothing good can come of revealing their status.

The change in philosophy also has sparked concerns, for which there is some evidence, that more condomless sex will lead to an increase in other sexually transmitted infections. And experts acknowledge that a few people whose viral load is not truly suppressed will eventually transmit HIV to others.

Laws in many states also are out of date. Many still criminalize the failure to reveal HIV status to a sex partner, even when there is no danger of transmissibility.

But on balance, authorities said, the agreement that people with HIV can prevent sexual transmission by taking a single pill each day is nothing less than revolutionary.

“Nothing is completely risk free,” Fauci said in an interview. “What the community feels is that all of the good that will come from the lack of social stigmatization” is worth the risk. “This means a lot to them. This has a lot to do with their self-worth, their identity.”

An undetectable viral load is defined as fewer than 200 copies of the virus in a milliliter of blood. Generally, people with HIV should maintain that level or a lower level for six months before beginning to consider themselves incapable of transmitting the virus sexually.

Many who faithfully take antiretroviral medication and lead healthful lifestyles can bring their viral loads considerably lower, to 50 or even 25 copies.

But progress raises other questions, said Jonathan Mermin, director of the CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention. What if a person forgets to take medication for one day? What about two, or more? How long after resuming therapy should someone wait before once again considering himself or herself incapable of transmitting the virus? And what about people who go above and below the 200-copy threshold over time? Studies show that to be the case for about 10 percent of the people with HIV, Mermin said.

As yet, there are no evidence-based answers to these questions, he said. “The public-health challenge now is moving from theory to implementation,” he said. “Many questions arise following the information that when a person with HIV has an undetectable viral load, he has effectively no risk of transmitting the virus.”

In 2008, Swiss experts announced that people with undetectable levels of HIV could not transmit HIV through sex. But the world was not ready to hear the message then.

Starting in 2011, three large studies confirmed the idea, tracking more than 75,000 vaginal and anal condomless sex acts without finding a single HIV transmission to an HIV-negative partner from someone whose viral load was undetectable. The initial 2011 study was named “breakthrough of the year” by Science magazine.

Now the challenge is to get the message out to HIV-positive people, caregivers and the public. And that process has been slow.

“I would tell everyone about this, friends and family and people I wanted to date and I was coming across so much resistance, because major institutions were saying this is wrong,” Richman said.

He launched U=U last year, initially a lonely and sometimes controversial campaign to let the world know something that many people with HIV had concluded for themselves. His breakthrough moment came in August 2016 when New York City’s health department signed on. Soon, other cities and organizations were joining.

Still, the message is moving mainly from people with HIV to health authorities and policymakers, rather than in the other direction, Richman said.

“This is a radical challenge to the status quo and to 35 years of HIV and fear of people living with HIV,” Richman said.
Brigitte Charbonneau, 71, of Ottawa, found out this year that she could not transmit the virus after 23 years of being HIV positive. “I thought, ‘My God, I’ve been living with my man for 20 years and we’ve been using condoms,’ ” the retired hairdresser recalled. “And I phoned him right that afternoon.”

Jennifer Vaughan of Watsonville, Calif., vividly remembers the moment she learned she could not transmit the virus to her boyfriend. The mother of three tested positive in February 2016 after she became critically ill with what was finally determined to be AIDS. HIV was not among the possibilities she or her doctors considered, until a blood test revealed the virus. She thinks she was infected by a previous boyfriend with a history of intravenous drug use.

She attended a speech Richman gave and was speaking with him in a parking lot outside a Starbucks.

“I’ll never forget him saying those words, ‘You can’t transmit the virus if you’re undetectable,’ ” the 47-year-old substitute teacher recalled. “And I said, ‘Wait, what?’

“It was like the sky opened. Are you kidding? There’s, like, zero risk? I don’t feel like I’m a threat anymore. I don’t feel like I’m dirty. I don’t feel like I’m a dangerous person.”

Transgender Day of Remembrance

   Ms Alexus D’Marco

For me, this is a very important and significant day. Just as there is a day that commemorates the fight against violence suffered by cisgender women, we – the transgender community – deserve a day, too. It makes me proud that there is a day on which members of the global transgender community that have become victims of gender-based violence, can be remembered because we are also an important part of society.

My work has empowered me and helped me understand the importance of education and training. Being able to share my knowledge and life experiences with my peers has strengthened my own identity as a transgender individual and, in turn, helps my peers empower themselves and know their right to live free of violence.

I teach my community about important gender-based violence information – including its links with HIV – we need to provide information on the route of available services and give information about our rights and how to identify violence. The members of my community feel more confident in seeking health and gender-based violence services and demanding that their rights be upheld.

Most transgender people in the Caribbean community have no services available to them if they become victims of gender-based violence. There are no clinical and psychological services provided. We must educate on gender-based violence to our Attorney Generals Office, the local police.

We must strengthen these services and make them more friendly to trans people.We need more entry doors to free KP-friendly services than ever before. We need to sensitize staff at the institutions on gender-based violence training.

To end gender-based violence against trans people, we need to do a very big job. We need to create a new generation with a new way of thinking. We need to educate people from a young age to understand that being different is not a bad thing and that being different does not mean that we do not have the right to live free of stigma and discrimination. We have the right to live a dignified life.

Many trans people are ignorant of their rights. We have been mistreated for so long that many of us are afraid to seek help because we are afraid of being rejected and discriminated against while seeking services. So, after being victims of violence, many transgender people do not go to services on time or do not go at all, increasing their risk of HIV and other physical and mental health complications.

It is very important for programs to talk about violence because when people go to a workshop or an educational session about violence in the community, they empower themselves and discover their value as a human being. Then they are more willing to seek services, including HIV services, when needed. As a trans woman, I have fought and will keep fighting so these kinds of programs continue to increase empowerment in the trans community and reduce the incidence of violence.

The participation of partners and clinics in offering gender-based violence services is fundamental for all key populations. Transgender people in the Caribbean should now able to get stigma-free and cost-free clinical services, like post-exposure prophylaxis, and psychological counselling if they are victims of violence.

UNAIDS announces nearly 21 million people living with HIV now on treatment

CAPE TOWN/GENEVA, 20 November 2017—Remarkable progress is being made on HIV treatment. Ahead of World AIDS Day, UNAIDS has launched a new report showing that access to treatment has risen significantly. In 2000, just 685 000 people living with HIV had access to antiretroviral therapy. By June 2017, around 20.9 million people had access to the life-saving medicines. Such a dramatic scale-up could not have happened without the courage and determination of people living with HIV demanding and claiming their rights, backed up by steady, strong leadership and financial commitment.

“Many people do not remember that in 2000 there were only 90 people in South Africa on treatment,” said Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS, speaking in Khayelitsha, South Africa. “Today, South Africa has the biggest life-saving treatment programme in the world, with more than 4 million people on treatment. This is the kind of acceleration we need to encourage, sustain and replicate.”

The rise in the number of people on treatment is keeping more people living with HIV alive and well. Scientific research has also shown that a person living with HIV who is adhering to an effective regime of antiretroviral therapy is up to 97% less likely to transmit HIV. As treatment access has been scaled up for pregnant women living with HIV, new HIV infections among children have been rapidly reduced. From 2010 to 2016, new HIV infections among children were reduced by 56% in eastern and southern Africa, the region most affected by HIV, and by 47% globally.

“In 2001, the first person in Khayelitsha started HIV treatment. Today, there are almost 42 000 people on treatment here. The success of Khayelitsha’s treatment programme is a microcosm of the massive success of South Africa’s HIV programme,” said Aaron Motsoaledi, Minister of Health, South Africa.

The challenges now are to ensure that the 17.1 million people in need of treatment, including 919 000 children, can access the medicines and to put HIV prevention back at the top of public health programming, particularly in the countries in which new HIV infections are rising.

The new report from UNAIDS, Right to health, highlights that the people most marginalized in society and most affected by HIV are still facing major challenges in accessing the health and social services they urgently need. However, the report also gives innovative examples of how marginalized communities are responding.

In India, for example, a collective of sex workers has trained sex workers to work as nursing assistants, providing stigma-free health services to sex workers and the wider community. In Uganda, groups of grandmothers are weaving and selling traditional baskets to allow them to pay for schooling for the grandchildren in their care who lost their parents to AIDS.

In 2016, around 1.8 million people were newly infected with HIV, a 39% decrease from the 3 million who became newly infected at the peak of the epidemic in the late 1990s. In sub-Saharan Africa, new HIV infections have fallen by 48% since 2000.
However, new HIV infections are rising at a rapid pace in countries that have not expanded health and HIV services to the areas and the populations where they are most effective. In eastern Europe and central Asia, for example, new HIV infections have risen by 60% since 2010 and AIDS-related deaths by 27%.

References to the right to health are found in international and regional laws, treaties, United Nations declarations and national laws and constitutions across the globe. The right to health is defined in Article 12 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights as the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. This includes the right of everyone, including people living with and affected by HIV, to the prevention and treatment of ill health, to make decisions about one’s own health and to be treated with respect and dignity and without discrimination.

UNAIDS’ Right to health report makes it clear that states have basic human rights obligations to respect, protect and fulfil the right to health.

The report gives voice to the communities most affected by HIV—including people living with HIV, sex workers, people who use drugs, gay men and other men who have sex with men and young people—on what the right to health means to them.
“Almost 20 years ago, the struggle was about access to treatment. Now, my struggle is not only about access but about ensuring that I have the support that I need to live a healthy and positive life. That is my right to health,” said Cindy Mguye, civil society representative.

Wherever the right to health is compromised, HIV spreads. In sub-Saharan Africa, for example, 67% of new HIV infections among young people are among young women and girls aged between 15 and 24 years. Studies have shown that a large number of young women and girls in the region contract HIV from older men, demonstrating multiple concerns about the ability of young women and girls to negotiate safer sex, stay in education and access age-appropriate sexual and reproductive health services.

Studies have also shown the difficulties health services face in reaching men with HIV testing and treatment, as well as broader health services, showing the challenge in encouraging men to exercise their right to health. In 2016, men in sub-Saharan Africa were 18% less likely to be accessing treatment and 8% more likely to die from AIDS-related illnesses than women.

The Right to health gives a clear demonstration of the challenges ahead in efforts to end the AIDS epidemic as a public health threat by 2030, as outlined in the 2016 United Nations Political Declaration on Ending AIDS.

The report underscores that to reduce new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths and ensure access to essential health services, funding for health needs to increase. It gives examples of how to enhance funding, including increasing the share of health spending as a proportion of national economies, making savings through efficiencies and partnering with the private sector. The funding gap for HIV is estimated at US$ 7 billion by 2020.

UNAIDS has set an agenda to Fast-Track the response to HIV by 2020 towards ending the AIDS epidemic as a public health threat by 2030. It will continue to work closely with its Cosponsors and partners to ensure that everyone, everywhere can fulfil their right to health and can access the health and social services they need.

In 2016 (*June 2017) an estimated:

*20.9 million [18.4 million–21.7 million] people were accessing antiretroviral therapy (in June 2017)

36.7 million [30.8 million–42.9 million] people globally were living with HIV

1.8 million [1.6 million–2.1 million] people became newly infected with HIV

1.0 million [830 000–1.2 million] people died from AIDS-related illnesses

CLICK HERE to download the report from PANCAP.org

New Call to Action provides guidelines for achieving sustainable HIV responses in Latin America and the Caribbean

Port-au-Prince, 10 November 2017 (PAHO/WHO-UNAIDS) — Civil society, government, private sector and development partners from Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) concluded three days of deliberations in Port au Prince, Haiti with a Call to Action outlining the principles and actions that would set the region on track to achieve a sustainable HIV response, aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals. The Third Latin American and Caribbean Forum on Sustainability of the HIV Response, “Road to Ending AIDS in LAC: Towards Sustainable Regional Fast-Track Targets”, was held from 6th to 8th November 2017 and brought together more than 200 participants. The forum was organized by the Government of Haiti, UNAIDS, PAHO/WHO, people living with HIV and other partners.

The objectives of the third forum were to review the progress and challenges towards meeting international and national targets; to discuss strategies to sustain the response in the medium and long-term including reflection on how to improve health systems effectiveness, efficiency and appropriate resource allocations; and to identify recommendations on how to close the resource gaps, specifically by increasing domestic investments.

Through the 2016 Political Declaration on ending AIDS and the Sustainable Development Goals, the world has pledged to end the AIDS epidemic as a public health threat by 2030. Countries have committed to a “Fast-Track” approach which includes a commitment to close the global HIV and AIDS resource gap and to fully fund the HIV and AIDS response. In both Latin America and the Caribbean, the resources allocated to the HIV response remain lower than what is needed to achieve the Fast-Track Targets by 2020. Donor dependency is especially high for prevention with proven impact for key and vulnerable populations.

In 2016, there were 2.1 million people living with HIV in Latin America and the Caribbean. From 2010 to 2016 there has been a 19% reduction in the number of AIDS-related deaths. At present 56% of all people living with HIV in the region are on antiretroviral treatment. Of concern is the fact that new infections have remained stagnant at an estimated 120,000 each year since 2010. Inaction would lead to further resource needs that will increase the cost of responding to the epidemic. This could translate into lives lost and a heavy burden on public finances.

Winfield Tannis Abbott, Chair of the Caribbean Regional Network of People Living with HIV, emphasized that the work on sustainability must be underpinned by human rights principles: “Civil society organizations in this region are united in our insistence that ending AIDS is not just about drugs and sustainability is not just about money. To get the best returns on investments we must place special focus on human development, access to social justice for all and the particular needs of key and vulnerable communities.”

As result of this Third Forum in Port-au-Prince, participants agreed on key recommendations to reduce budget gaps, make public expenditure more efficient and equitable and maximize the use of non-financial resources. They also called for a number of actions by governments, civil society, donors and the United Nations to achieve sustainable HIV responses. The resulting Call to Action of Port-au-Prince document is based on the principles of Human Rights and Universal Health, and adopts the core values of the right to health, equity, and solidarity beyond financial sustainability.

“Current sustainability challenges towards ending the AIDS epidemic as a public health threat by 2030 go well beyond financing. We need a framework that leads to a comprehensive approach to address challenges associated with the organization of health service delivery and the model of care, the stewardship role of national health authorities and governance of the health system, as well as intersectoral action. The Regional Strategy for universal health provides such a framework,” said Dr. Amalia Del Riego, chief of the Health Services and Access Unit of the Pan American Health Organization.

“Ending the AIDS epidemic is a shared responsibility, requiring political commitment and increases in both international and domestic investment in the AIDS responses. This Call to Action lays the foundation for developing and implementing the rapid expansion of an efficient, effective, integrated and sustainable HIV response.” said Dr. César Núñez, Regional Director of the UNAIDS Latin America and Caribbean Regional Support Team.

Call to Action of Port au Prince

The call to action is divided into 4 main sections.

Call to Latin America and Caribbean governments

Participants urge governments in the region to allocate at least six percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to health while innovating to increase the fiscal space available for health investments. Recommendations for doing this include the reform of existing taxation systems. A key priority is increasing accountability by implementing mechanisms to strengthen data collection including disaggregation by gender and key population, storage, analysis and dissemination of information aligned with the national health information systems to inform decision making, investments and planning, including information on HIV needs and expenditures. Governments are being asked to prioritize the meaningful involvement and funding of civil society organizations in support of an effective HIV response, particularly as it relates to increasing the access of key and vulnerable populations to HIV services.

Call to civil society organizations

Among other actions, participants urge civil society to continue, expand and build advocacy efforts to mobilize domestic resources and monitor budget allocation and expenditures. Greater investment in civil society and community-based service delivery is critical to the Fast-Track approach. Participants also call on civil society to participate in the preparedness processes of countries transitioning out of external donor support and to ensure transition plans adopt a multi-sectoral approach.

Call to donor governments and multilateral funding mechanisms

Participants call on donor governments and multilateral funding mechanisms to support a planned, measured and effective transition from donor funding to domestic reliance for the HIV response and to strengthen coordination to ensure that there is no duplication of donor support. They also urge donors to continue supporting the work of global, regional and national civil society organizations, particularly those working with Key Populations and groups in conditions of vulnerability.

Call to the United Nations

In the call to action, the UN is urged to promote horizontal technical cooperation such as the Horizontal Technical Cooperation Group (GCTH) and the use of evidence-based and highly effective interventions to prevent and treat HIV, and other related diseases as well as to reduce stigma and discrimination. The UN is also called to support the strengthening of governance capacity of LAC governments, particularly within Ministries of Health, in order to strengthen capacity for leadership of the HIV response. Participants indicate that PAHO and UNAIDS should be supported to monitor and report against the actions in the Call to Action, including collaboratively establishing indicators and targets.

About the LAC III Forum

This forum was organized as a collaborative effort by the Government of Haiti, in coordination with the Horizontal Technical Cooperation Group (GCTH), the Pan Caribbean Partnership Against HIV/AIDS (PANCAP), the Minister of Health of Brazil, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the Global Fund Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the Latin American Network of People Living with HIV (REDLA+) and the Caribbean Network of People Living with HIV and AIDS (CRN+).

Media contacts:

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Michela Polesana
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Spanish-speaking journalists

Cedriann Martin
+ 1 876 396-7610
English-speaking journalists

Daniel de Castro
Portuguese-speaking journalists

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PAHO/WHO: www.paho.org

Global Fund Appoints Peter Sands as Executive Director

GENEVA – The Board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria today appointed a new Executive Director: Peter Sands, a former chief executive of Standard Chartered Bank who after a distinguished career in banking immersed himself in a range of global public health projects.

Sands, who is currently Chairman of the World Bank’s International Working Group on Financing Pandemic Preparedness, is also a research fellow at the Harvard Global Health Institute and the Mossavar Rahmani Center for Business and Government at Harvard’s Kennedy School, where he works on research projects in global health and financial regulation.

“Peter Sands brings exceptional management and finance experience, and a heart for global health,” said Aida Kurtović, Board Chair of the Global Fund. “At a time when we face complex challenges, his ability to mobilize resources while managing transformational change is exactly what we need. We expect him to take the Global Fund to the next level.”

Sands served as Chief Executive Officer of Standard Chartered PLC from 2006 to 2015, having joined the bank in 2002 as Group Finance Director. Under his leadership, Standard Chartered successfully navigated the turbulence of the global financial crisis in 2007-2009, continuing to support clients and counterparties throughout the worst of the financial stresses and without drawing on government support of any kind.

Sands led Standard Chartered’s transformation into one of the world’s leading international banks, reinforcing its focus on emerging markets and driving the development of world-class product, risk management and technology capabilities, underpinned by a highly collaborative culture. During Sands’ tenure as CEO, Standard Chartered focused its corporate responsibility initiatives on health issues, including avoidable blindness, AIDS and malaria. Sands served on the board of the Global Business Coalition on AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and was Lead Non-Executive Director on the board of the United Kingdom’s Department of Health.

After stepping down from the bank in 2015, Sands deployed his skills and experience in international finance on global health. Sands served as Chairman of the U.S. National Academy of Medicine’s Commission on a Global Health Risk Framework for the Future, which published the influential report on pandemics entitled The Neglected Dimension of Global Security: a Framework to Counter Infectious Disease Outbreaks. Sands is also serving on the U.S. National Academy of Science’s Forum on Microbial Threats and Committee on Ensuring Access to Affordable Drugs. Sands has published articles on global health and epidemics in various peer-reviewed journals.

“I am deeply honored to join this extraordinary partnership,” Sands said. “Infectious diseases today represent one of the most serious risks facing humankind. If we work together to mobilize funds, build strong health systems and establish effective community responses we will be able to end epidemics, promote prosperity and increase our global health security.”

Born in the United Kingdom, Sands was educated in Malaysia, the UK, Canada and the U.S. He began his career in the UK’s Foreign Office and then joined McKinsey & Company, where he worked for 13 years in the London office, advising clients in the financial services and telecommunications sectors.

Sands graduated from Brasenose College, Oxford University with a First Class degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics. He also received a Master’s in Public Administration from Harvard University, where he was a Harkness Fellow.

As new Executive Director, Sands will oversee and guide the implementation of the Global Fund’s 2017-2022 strategy, designed to maximize impact against HIV, TB and malaria and build resilient and sustainable systems for health.

The Global Fund is a 21st-century partnership organization designed to accelerate the end of AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria as epidemics. Founded in 2002, the Global Fund is a partnership between governments, civil society, the private sector and people affected by the diseases.

The Global Fund raises and invests nearly US$4 billion a year to support programs run by local experts in countries and communities most in need. The Global Fund has been consistently rated as one of the most effective and transparent organizations in the development sector.

Remarks by the Director of PANCAP – Opening Ceremony for the Third Latin American and Caribbean Forum

His Excellency Jovenel Moise, President of Haiti, Mrs Kim Simplis Barrow, First Lady of Belize, Honourable Marie Greta Roy Clement, Minister of Health and Population, Haiti, Dr Cesar Nunes, UNAIDS Director LAC, Mr Mamadou Diallo, Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Mission for Justice Support in Haiti and Resident Coordinator, Representatives of other UN agencies, PEPFAR, The Global Fund, GCTH, PAHO, AHF, the Caribbean Sex Worker Coalition, and the indomitable Kate Spring.

Ladies and gentlemen, I bring you greetings on behalf of the Chair of PANCAP, The Right Honourble Timothy Harris, Prime Minister of St Kitts and Nevis, Lead Head with Responsibility for Human Resources, Health and HIV within the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Quaisi cabinet as well from Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community.

The Pan Caribbean Partnership Against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP) is pleased to be part of this Third Latin American and Caribbean Forum. I wish to thank the Government of Haiti, UNAIDS and other organisers for making this forum a reality.

Since its establishment in 2001, PANCAP has seen many successes including unprecedented collective regional negotiation with five pharmaceutical companies for significant price reduction for ARVs; sharpest regional decline in HIV incidence by 48.1% between 2001 and 2013; declining AIDS-related deaths by 55% from 2000 to 2016; ARV coverage increased to 52% from less than 5% in 2001; eight countries have adopted the WHO recommendation that ARV therapy should be initiated in every person living with HIV at any CD4 cell count; elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV in seven countries; and capacity building of healthcare providers. These successes are due to the combined efforts of all PANCAP partners with strong leadership from national programmes, and regional, national and community partners supporting national responses.

Despite the overall gains, considerable challenges remain. The Caribbean has a mixed HIV epidemic consisting of a low-level generalised epidemic in the adult population, but an unacceptably high HIV prevalence among key populations, particularly MSM. While 64% of PLHIV knew their status in 2016, 36% did not; 52% were on treatment while 48% were not. Only Haiti has >89% of diagnosed people living with HIV on treatment. One-third (33%) of Caribbean people living with HIV on treatment were not virally suppressed in 2016.

The Partnership is conscious that the progress towards an AIDS-free Caribbean in the face of shrinking financial resources, requires strategic investment in effective interventions that save lives, maximise the impact of regional efforts, ensure value for money and scale-up work where HIV is most heavily concentrated. Further reductions in AIDS-related mortality and transmission will only be possible through improved efforts to meet the needs of people who are disproportionately affected by HIV. Achieving universal access to comprehensive, high-quality, integrated HIV prevention and treatment services requires inclusive and harmonised multisectoral action, including the removal of legal, social and cultural barriers.
At our 13th Annual General Meeting held in November 2014, the Partnership reaffirmed the central principle of shared responsibility through strong and mutually accountable partnerships with strengthened voice and participation in decision making for communities and people living with HIV; called for the acceleration of regional efforts to mobilise resources, and to implement measures to further reduce the cost of ARV treatment and laboratory reagents and commodities.

PANCAP’s leadership is engaged in a dialogue on how to sustain the gains of the last 10 years and have taken action towards sustainability of the regional response including an assessment of the Partnership. We are collaborating with development partners to engage our governments for increased HIV investment at the national level through shared responsibility, particularly with the private sector, human resource capacity building, health systems strengthening including laboratory and efficiencies in the supply chain, and are poised to accelerate these efforts.
I look forward to robust discussions over the next three days that will lead to identification and agreements on sustainable regional fast track targets.

Thank you.

AIDS Healthcare Foundation calls for accelerating and scaling up the response to HIV in the Caribbean

(Port-au-Prince, November 6, 2017) – From November 6 to 9, an international Forum is bringing to Haiti more than 150 national and international specialists to spur the dialogue on what are the key requirements to end AIDS in the region. AHF, which serves populations in more than a dozen countries in the Caribbean and in Latin America, has been a partner in implementing this joint effort from its inception in Mexico in 2014 and will continue to do so.

AHF, however, remains concerned about the slow implementation of the Test and Treat Strategy within the region and about the reduction as well as the inefficiency of utilization of existing donor funds.

“The percentage of overall funding allocated to treatment in the region is not in keeping with the evidence, which now indisputably indicates that getting to sustained viral suppression removes the risk of transmission. Yet, still only a half of those infected are on treatment, and worse, maybe less than half of those in treatment, is virally suppressed”, said Dr Kevin Harvey, Caribbean Regional director.  “We must continue to discuss sustainability of the response and country ownership in light of retreating donors and restricted funding; however, we believe there is an even more urgent need to discuss the mammoth task of doubling and, in some cases, triple the number of persons receiving treatment. Moreover, the social barriers that limit one’s ability to stay on treatment, we have hardly started to address”, also noted the former Head of HIV Program in Jamaica.

AHF is committed to expanding its role in the response in this region and around the world as we scale up the resources it provides in the LAC. “Our goal is to directly support one million persons in care by 2020”, said Mr Michael Kahane, Southern Bureau Chief. “And we will not be neglecting small developing states such as Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago.” Dr. Patricia Campos, Chief of the Latin America Bureau, pointed out that AHF is also calling on National governments “to address, as a national emergency, the implementation of treatment for those who have the virus, considering that Test and Treat is an intervention that will not only save the lives of the individuals treated, but will protect the whole society due to the resultant reduction in transmission at the community level.”

Finally, as the Forum evolves, AHF is calling on all the donors, governments and civil society within this region to urgently develop and implement a roadmap to ramp up care and treatment, in keeping with the sustainable development goals and 90 90 90 targets, as agreed by the UN and partners.
“The evidence is clear and well documented, we would have failed the next generation if we retreat now”, Dr Harvey concludes.

AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization, currently provides medical care and/or services to almost 820,000 patients in 38 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, the Asia/Pacific Region and Eastern Europe. To learn more about AHF, please visit our website: www.aidshealth.org, find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/aidshealth and follow us on Twitter: @aidshealthcare.

– ENDS – 

Finance and HIV Experts gather in Haiti to participate in the Third Latin American and Caribbean Forum on sustainability of the HIV response

PORT AU PRINCE, HAITI, NOVEMBER 5 2017: The Third Latin American and Caribbean Forum on Sustainability of the HIV Response, “Road to Ending AIDS in LAC: Towards Sustainable Regional Fast Track Targets” will be held in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, from 6 to 8 November 2017.

The Caribbean will be represented by National AIDS Programme Managers, Chief Medical Officers, key populations and regional partners.  Regional partners will include The University of the West Indies, Caribbean Med Labs Foundation (CMLF) and the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC).  Civil Society Organisations will also be participating including the Caribbean Sex Work Coalition (CSWC), Caribbean Forum for Liberation and Acceptance of Genders and Sexualities (CariFLAGS), Caribbean Regional Network of People Living with HIV and AIDS (CRN+), Eastern Caribbean Alliance for Diversity and Equality (ECADE), ,  The DMARCO Foundation and the Trinidad and Tobago Transgender Coalition.  Key populations attending include People Living with HIV (PLHIV) and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) representatives.

Through the Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS: On the FastTrack to Accelerating the Fight against HIV and to Ending the AIDS Epidemic by 2030, the world has pledged within the Sustainable Development Goals to end the AIDS epidemic as a public health threat by 2030. Countries have committed to a “Fast-Track” approach from now until 2020 and reaffirm in light of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda concrete policies and actions to close the global HIV and AIDS resource gap and to fully fund the HIV and AIDS response with the target of ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030. Following the successful experiences of the first and second Latin American and Caribbean Forums, the key objective of this third Forum is to develop and implement the rapid expansion of an efficient, effective, integrated and sustainable HIV response aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals and the Latin America and the Caribbean regional Fast Track agenda.

The Forum, which will gather finance and HIV experts from Latin America, the Caribbean and from around the world, will provide a space for sharing information on national progress and preliminary results towards the achievement of the agreed “90-90-90” and the prevention and zero discrimination targets, challenges and unmet needs from the 2015 Rio Call to Action. It will also provide a space for sharing new scientific data, to support the implementation of cost-effective and efficient interventions across the continuum of HIV prevention, care and treatment. Finally, it will facilitate a discussion around strategies and mechanisms to transition into nationally sustainable responses to end AIDS as a public health threat in Latin America and the Caribbean by 2030.

This forum is organized as a collaborative effort by the Government of Haiti, in coordination with the Horizontal Technical Cooperation Group (GCTH), the Pan Caribbean Partnership Against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP), the Minister of Health of Brazil, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the Pan American Health Organization, the Global Fund Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the Latin American Network of People Living with HIV (REDLA+) and the Caribbean Network of People Living with HIV and AIDS (CRN+).

For media interviews please contact:

Spanish Speaking Journalists

Milena Sandler
Michela Polesana
00507 69494371

English Speaking Journalists
Cedriann Martin

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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.

Timothy Austin
Communications Specialist
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 and follow @pancaporg

CRN+ participated in CVC’s Regional CSO Forum and Advocacy Planning Meeting

The Caribbean Regional Network of People Living with HIV and AIDS (CRN+) participated in the CVC Regional Civil Society Organisation Forum and Advocacy Planning Meeting, held from 29th September to 3rd October 2017 at the Knutsford Court Hotel, Kingston Jamaica. The meeting brought together representatives from civil society organisations across the region, including CRN+ networks, CRN+ Board and Staff, Global Network of People Living with HIV (GNP+) representatives, PANCAP and other partners. The meeting provided an opportunity for CRN+ to contribute to the discussion on stigma and discrimination affecting PLHIV and other key population groups, network with other CSOs to strengthen its work with PLHIV across the region, establish new partnerships and to share good practices working with PLHIV.

CRN+ convenes Review and Reflection Meeting

The Caribbean Regional Network of People Living with HIV and AIDS (CRN+), with funding from the Robert Carr Network FundIII, convened a Review and Reflection Meeting from 27th – 28th September 2017 at the Knutsford Court Hotel, Kingston Jamaica. The meeting brought together representatives of the networks of People Living with HIV (PLHIV) from six of the eight target countries on the Global Network of People Living with HIV (GNP+) and the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC) grants. These included Belize, Dominican Republic, Guyana, Jamaica, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago. CRN+ Board members, CRN+ Staff, GNP+ Executive Director and Programme Officer participated in the meeting. The PANCAP Global Fund grant supported board members and the Senior Programme Officer’ participation.

The meeting reviewed and discussed the HIV Environmental Scans supported by GNP+ which were conducted in 2016 and the UNAIDS 90-90-90 Progress Update 2017 – focusing on the Caribbean data. Participants reviewed and simplify the UNAIDS Caribbean epidemiological data to enable PLHIV to better understand the information and to aid them in their advocacy.