Price for high-quality HIV treatment slashed

GUYANA is among more than 90 low and middle income countries that will be able benefit from a new high-quality antiretroviral therapy at a reduced cost.

At a press conference on Thursday at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, international players in the global fight to achieve the UN’s 90-90-90 treatment targets for persons living with HIV, announced that they have been able to strike a ground-breaking agreement that will accelerate the availability of the first affordable, generic, single-pill HIV treatment regimen containing dolutegravir (DTG).

With the agreement in place, public sector purchasers in low and middle income countries will be able to access the single-pill HIV treatment from 2018 at around US$75 per person, per year.

DTG, is recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as an alternative first-line HIV regimen. In July 2017, WHO issued guidance to countries on how to safely and rapidly transition to DTG-based antiretroviral treatment.

The announcement was made by the Governments of South Africa and Kenya, together with the United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), Unitaid, the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID), the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

According to the leaders in the health sector, the agreement is a critical step towards ensuring the availability of worldwide high-quality treatment for HIV.

Most importantly, it is expected to accelerate treatment rollout as part of global efforts to reach all 36.7 million people living with HIV with high-quality antiretroviral therapy. UNAIDS estimates that in 2016, just over half (19.5 million) of all people living with HIV had access to the lifesaving medicines.

In his remarks, UNAIDS Executive Director, Michel Sidibé, said it was a lifetime announcement, noting that the agreement will improve the quality of life for millions of people living with HIV in 92 countries across the world.

“What we are talking about today is a life changing announcement. It’s about the quality of medicine, it’s about equity, it’s about dignity, it’s about access to medicine as a human right,” he told journalists.

Sidibé noted too that increased availability to treatments like DTG is critical to achieving the UN’s 2020 target.

“To achieve the 90-90-90 treatment targets, newer, affordable and effective treatment options must be made available—from Baltimore to Bamako—without any delay,” he stated.

For WHO, the agreement is a welcomed one.

“WHO welcomes this agreement which will make it possible to reach millions of people with better, more affordable and durable HIV drugs. This will save lives for the most vulnerable, bringing the world closer to the elimination of HIV. We congratulate South Africa, Kenya, CHAI and others on this landmark agreement. WHO will support countries in the safe introduction and a swift transition to this game-changing new treatment,” WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom stated.

This one pill, once-a-day generic fixed-dose combination of tenofovir disoproxil fumarate, lamivudine, and dolutegravir (TLD) was developed by Mylan and Aurobindo, under licensing agreements from ViiV Healthcare, the original developer of DTG.

BMGF, with the support of CHAI, recently completed ceiling price agreements with Mylan and Aurobindo with the goal of accelerating the availability of the new fixed-dose combination to the public sector. The agreements are expected to save public sector purchasers over US$1 billion over the next six years.

The ceiling price agreements apply to purchases for public sector use in all 92 countries covered under ViiV Healthcare’s dolutegravir licensing agreement, representing over 90 per cent of people in Low and Middle Income Countries currently living with HIV.

According to Global HIV Statistics, 36.7 million people were living with HIV in 2016, 19.5 of whom had access to antiretroviral therapy. In that year alone, 1.8 million people had gotten infected with HIV. Additionally, approximately one million people died from AIDS related illnesses in 2016.

In the Caribbean, there were 310, 000 people living with HIV in 2016, 18, 000 of whom were infected that same year. Also in 2016, 9,400 people died of AIDS-related illnesses in the Caribbean region.

In December 2016, the National AIDS Programme Secretariat had disclosed that 7000 persons were living with HIV in Guyana, the majority of whom were being treated.

PEPFAR Strategy reaffirms support for HIV/AIDS efforts in over 50 countries

On Tuesday September 19 2017, at the 72nd United National General Assembly, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson released the new U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) Strategy for Accelerating HIV/AIDS Epidemic Control (2017-2020), which reaffirms U.S. support for HIV/AIDS efforts in more than 50 countries, ensuring access to services by all populations, including the most vulnerable and at-risk groups.

The Strategy also outlines plans to accelerate implementation in a subset of 13 high-burden countries that have the potential to achieve HIV/AIDS epidemic control by 2020, working in collaboration with host governments, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund), the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, and other partners.

The latest PEPFAR data show that, largely through the U.S. government’s support, the HIV/AIDS epidemic is coming under control in 5 of these 13 countries: Lesotho, Malawi, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. These data also indicate that the previously expanding HIV epidemic in Uganda has now stabilized.

According to Ambassador Deborah L. Birx, MD, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large, U.S. Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy and Coordinator of U.S. Government Activities to Combat Global HIV/AIDS (PEPFAR), ‘as we work together to envision a very different future, what once seemed impossible is now possible because of your compassionate leadership and your commitment in the global fight against HIV/AIDS’.

The announcement was highlighted in The New York Times and Reuters.

Ambassador Deborah Birx further added ‘ this means we have the extraordinary opportunity to change the very course of the HIV pandemic over the next three years’.

Click here to download the strategy.

Click here for the PEPFAR media note.

Click here for the official press release.

PANCAP Surprises Dominican Republic Advocate with Champions For Change Award

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, presented Operations Manager, Centro de Orientación e Investigación Integral (COIN), Vanessa Uziely Rosario Brito, with the PANCAP Champions for Change award. The impromptu presentation occurred on the second day of the PANCAP Champions for Change IV – Relaunch (September 12 – 13) and was initiated by Director of PANCAP, Mr Dereck Springer, who stated that Ms Brito was worthy of the title due to her ‘advocacy in human rights and facilitation of key populations access to justice in the Dominican Republic and regionally’.

The Dominican Republic is an official PANCAP member and continues to make strides to reduce the spread of HIV.

Ms Brito joins 16 PANCAP Champions who received their awards from Hon. Nicolette Henry, Minister of Education (Guyana) and Dr Douglas Slater, Assistant Secretary-General, Human and Social Development, CARICOM Secretariat, during the opening ceremony on Tuesday, September 12.

Ms Brito was presented with her award by UNAIDS and PANCAP Advisor, Dr Edward Greene who referred to her many interventions for vulnerable groups including women and children; the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community and persons living with or affected by HIV and AIDS.

She has a Law Degree from the Catholic University of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and a Masters in Corporate Law from the Antonio de Nebrija University, Madrid, Spain.

She is the Chairperson of the COIN Board and co-researcher on French Legislation in the field of HIV and AIDS for the University Hospital Center (CHU), Pointe-a-Pitre, Guadalupe. She is a Defense Lawyer on human rights and access to justice of vulnerable groups at the Human Rights Observatory for Vulnerable Groups of the Dominican Republic (ODHGV).

Ms Brito has studied best practices in holistic education on sexuality, sexual health and Human Rights at the Cuban National Center for Sexual Education (CENESEX). She is also the Chief Executive Officer and Founder of the Foundation for Savings, Loans and Multiple Services in Primary Health Care.

She has defended the right of access by the public to government information as the officer responsible in the Office of the Free Access to Public Information (National Office of Public Defense, Dominican Republic).

In addition to her full-time occupation as Operations Manager in the Center of Orientation and Holistic Research (COIN), she works as an independent legal consultant.

PANCAP extends congratulations to Ms Brito and anticipates collaborating on issues related to promoting amendments to the law that protect vulnerable groups and create an enabling environment for access to prevention, care and treatment without the fear of stigma and discrimination.

– 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
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

New PANCAP Champions recommit to contributing to goals of UNAIDS 90-90-90 Targets

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, completed the Champions for Change IV – Relaunch (September 12-13) with a declaration by the over twenty-five participants including representatives from civil society organisations, National AIDS Programme Managers, faith leaders, academia, youth, regional parliamentarians and representatives from UN organisations.

The declaration highlighted a recommitment by the participants to contribute to the goals of UNAIDS 90-90-90 Targets to end AIDS by 2030. Participants also agreed to advocate for access to affordable medicines and strengthening laboratory systems as a human right by 2020; support enactment of appropriate legislation, regulations and other measures to eliminate all forms of discrimination and to ensure the full enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms of persons living with, at risk and affected by HIV by 2020.

Participants also pledged to utilize their influence to foster an enabling environment for all members of vulnerable communities including men who have sex with men, sex workers, persons who use drugs, girls and adolescents by 2020.

Participants committed to using their circle of influence to promote activities and programmes to further the Region’s success in the elimination of mother-to-child transfer of HIV and syphilis by 2020.

Emphasis was also placed on promoting initiatives that seek to integrate AIDS in a health/multisectoral approach in keeping with the Sustainable Development Goal #3; as well as propagating the implementation of Universal Health Access in accordance with the WHO/PAHO (2016) and World Health Assembly (2017) Declarations.

Participants also agreed to assist faith leaders to intensify efforts to provide spiritual, psychosocial, economic and physical care for persons living with HIV.  Of note was an agreement to sustain activities that promote respectful dialogue between faith leaders and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) representatives.

Rev. Winston Mansingh, President of the Faith Based Network of Trinidad and Tobago and a PANCAP Champion for Change, urged the meeting to place further emphasis on persons with disabilities, especially those living with and affected by HIV.  He illustrated examples of persons with disabilities not being able to access vital education about prevention, treatment and care due to messages not being tailored for their audience.  Fellow Champion and Executive Director of LIVE UP: The Caribbean Media Alliance, Dr Allyson Leacock, echoed the sentiments of Rev. Mansingh and posited that websites, social media and other public education materials can be optimized for use by persons with disabilities.  She stated that the initiative would require significant financial investment and that such a cause should be supported and propagated by the PANCAP Champions.

The final day of the event concluded with inspired words by UNAIDS and PANCAP Advisor, Dr Edward Greene, who charged the new Champions with using their influence to further the goals of the declaration in order to ensure success.  Dr Greene stated that the next steps would include Champions building an effective network to use their collective influence to further the agendas of regional and international commitments for ending AIDS including the UN High Level Meeting Political Declaration (June 2016); the Caribbean Cooperation in Health IV (2016), the PANCAP Justice for All Roadmap (2015/2016) and the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.  Dr Greene referred to the statements by Rt. Hon. Sir Charles Michael Dennis Byron, President, Caribbean Court of Justice, who delivered the keynote address at the opening ceremony.  ‘Indeed, the law is an important determinant of health’, stated Dr Greene, ‘I urge you to combine your influence to call for revisions to be made to the legal system in the Caribbean that would comprehensively address the needs of vulnerable groups, including women and children; the LGBT community and persons living with or affected by HIV and AIDS.

-ENDS

 

Editor’s Notes:

The 2017 Champions for Change include Guyana’s First Lady, Mrs Sandra Granger for her outstanding leadership and championing of the ‘Every Caribbean Woman, Every Caribbean Child’ Initiative; the Executive Director of LIVE UP Dr. Allyson Leacock; Attorney-at-law Dr. Arif Bulkan; Canon of the Cathedral in the Diocese of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, Canon Garth Minott, Member of Parliament (Guyana), Dr. Frank Anthony; the Chief Executive Officer of the Institute of Law and Economics (ILE), Jamaica, Dwayne Gutzmer; Founder and Managing Director of the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) in Guyana, Joel Simpson; Executive Director of the Eastern Caribbean Alliance for Diversity and Equality (ECADE) Kenita Placide; Speaker of the National Assembly of Belize and Chairperson of the National AIDS Commission, Laura Tucker-Longworth; Chair of the Caribbean Forum for Liberation and Acceptance of Genders and Sexualities (CariFLAGS), Lucien Govaard; Guyana’s professional squash player, Nicolette Fernandes; President of the Barbados Evangelical Association, Rev. Dr Nigel Taylor; Director of the National HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Programme at the Bahamas Ministry of Health, Dr Nikkiah Forbes; Trinidad and Tobago Minister of Health, Terrence Deyalsingh; Deputy Programme Manager within the Communications Unit at the CARICOM Secretariat, Volderine Hackett; and Senior Pastor of The Poonah Open Bible Miracle Centre (POBMC), Trinidad and Tobago, Rev. Winston Mansingh.

 

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

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 PANCAP on:

Cabinet approves nomination of Dr Arif Bulkan to UN Human Rights Committee

Dr Christopher Arif Bulkan was recently nominated by Cabinet to represent Guyana on the United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHC), according to a press release yesterday from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The next election for membership is scheduled for June 2018. The UNHC is the body of independent experts which monitors the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights by State parties.

The release said that Dr. Bulakan is an Attorney-at-Law and Senior Law Lecturer at the University of the West Indies with specializations in Public Law, Constitutional Law, Caribbean Human Rights Law, and International Human Rights Law. He also co-founded the Faculty of Law UWI Rights Advocacy Project (U-RAP) at the Cave Hill campus, which is a group of law professors who engage in litigation and advocacy aimed at promoting human rights.

Dr. Bulkan has been involved in human rights advocacy for many years and has worked to establish and defend the rights of vulnerable and marginalized communities, the release added.

He has also been involved in public advocacy against the death penalty, both regionally and at events sponsored by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The release said that the UN Human Rights Committee comprises 18 independent experts. The Members are usually elected for a four-year term by State parties.

Currently, membership includes representatives from Paraguay, Tunisia, Latvia, USA, Egypt, France, South Africa, Japan, Montenegro, Mauritania, Canada, Uganda, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Germany, Israel, and Suriname. Suriname’s membership will expire at the end of 2018, and a representative is expected to be selected from the Latin American/Caribbean region.

A Declaration of Commitment by PANCAP Champions for Change to contribute to fast track the end of AIDS in the Caribbean by 2030

ARTICLE I

PREAMBLE

We: the participants at the Forum to Relaunch the CARICOM/PANCAP Champions for Change Initiative including parliamentarians, policy makers, lawyers, healthcare practitioners, educators, religious leaders, artistes, sports and media personnel, youth, members of civil society including People Living with HIV (PLHIV), reaffirm our commitment to the goals of ending AIDS by 2030;

Noted with concern: the lapse since 2006 in the implementation of PANCAP Champions for Change Commitment initiated in St Kitts and Nevis on the occasion of the CARICOM/UK Conference, Reduce Stigma and Discrimination Against living with HIV/AIDS November 22-24, 2004. Among the outcomes were Champions for Change Conferences with specific Stakeholders:

• Representatives of Faith Based Organizations 22-23 November, 2005;
• Leaders of the print and electronic media, owners of the regional broadcasting media houses, freelance journalists, publishers, information and communication specialists, video and film producers, cultural and other artistes in Barbados, 7-9 December, 2006; and
• the establishment of the PANCAP Stigma and Discrimination Unit, 2009-2012;

Recognising the Caribbean’s advances in the response including increased access to antiretroviral treatment resulting in persons living longer;

Deeply concerned however that the Caribbean remains the second most affected region in the world and compounded by co-infection with Tuberculosis and increased burden from NCDs and other emerging diseases;

Convinced of the need to reinstate the Champions for Change Commitment given the scientific evidence that AIDS can be ended by accelerating actions to reduce stigma and discrimination and increase access to prevention and treatment;

Recognising that HIV transmission is preventable through individual behaviour, which is influenced positively or negatively by cultural, social, economic, political and legal systems.

Reaffirming our original and more recent commitments to accelerate the response to HIV made through:

• The Caribbean Partnership Agreement establishing PANCAP (2001)
• The UN General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS (2001)
• The Nassau Declaration: The Health of the Region is the Wealth of the Region (2001)
• CARICOM PANCAP Model Anti-Discrimination Legislation (2012)
• PANCAP Justice for All Roadmap (2014)
• 2030 The Sustainable Development Goals, especially Goal 3 Ensure healthy lives and promote the well-being for all ages (2015)
• The UN High-Level Political Declaration: Fast Tracking the Response to End AIDS by 2030 (2016)
• Caribbean Cooperation in Health IV (2016)

Note the recommendations related to the regional and international commitments in the Caribbean aimed at the contribution of stakeholders to ending AIDS by 2030 through the PANCAP Consultations with:
 Faith Leaders (in collaboration with UNAIDS and AIDS Healthcare Foundation) in Trinidad and Tobago, February, 2017;
 National AIDS Programme Managers and Key Partners, in Trinidad and Tobago, March, 2017;
 Youth Leaders (in collaboration with PAHO) in Trinidad and Tobago, April, 2017;
 Parliamentarians (in collaboration with UNDP) in Jamaica, May, 2017;

Support the recommendations of:

 The ‘Every Caribbean Woman Every Caribbean Child’ (CARIWAC) Initiative for reducing gender violence, teenage pregnancies and cervical cancer, and eliminating mother-to-child transmission of HIV and Syphilis;
 The Spouses of Caribbean Leaders Action Network (SCLAN) in championing the CARIWAC Initiative.

Acknowledge that it is the legal, moral and ethical responsibility of all states to meet their human rights obligations and protect the public health of all people.

ARTICLE II
DECLARATION

We SOLEMNLY DECLARE as Champions for Change to pursue our obligations to positively contribute to the ending of the AIDS epidemic by 2030 in keeping with our regional and international commitments and to:

 promote TEST, TREAT and DEFEAT AIDS in keeping with UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets by 2020;

 advocate for access to affordable medicines and strengthening laboratory systems as a human right by 2020;

 also advocate for and support enactment of appropriate legislation, regulations and other measures to eliminate all forms of discrimination and to ensure the full enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms of persons living with, at risk and affected by HIV by 2020;

 further advocate for an enabling environment for all members of vulnerable communities including men who have sex with men, sex workers, persons who use drugs, girls and adolescents by 2020;

 advocate for the Caribbean to become the first region in the world to eliminate Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV and syphilis by 2020;

 promote taking AIDS out of isolation through an integrated health/multisectoral approach in keeping with SDG#3 by 2020;

 also promote the implementation of Universal Health Access in keeping with the WHO/PAHO (2016) and World Health Assembly (2017) Declarations by 2020;

 promote the recommendations of the CARICOM Council of Human and Social Development-Minister of Health (2015) to implement the PANCAP Justice for All Roadmap in short (2018), medium (2020) and long term (2030) phases;

 support the programme complementarity between PANCAP and CARPHA to accelerate the Caribbean response to ending AIDS by 2018;

 also support the Regional Faith Leaders Consultative Committee and the National Faith Leaders Networks to intensify their efforts to provide spiritual, psychosocial, economic and physical care for persons living with HIV and in their respectful dialogue with LGBTI by 2018;

 advocate for the sustained allocation of resources for civil society and faith based organisations to participate in overall programmes for testing, treating and reducing stigma and discrimination and particularly to reach underserved communities by 2018;

 implement and sustain measures to empower adolescents and young adults to protect themselves and their peers from risks of infections by 2018;

 include the elderly living with HIV who are particularly vulnerable to other infections by 2018;

 include persons with disabilities, especially those living with and affected by HIV;

 advocate for more rigorous collection, dissemination and analysis of data as effective sources for making informed policy decisions by 2018;

 promote all efforts at increasing access to prevention, through age appropriate sexual and reproductive health education, including the implementation of recommendations for the revised Health and Family Life Education (HFLE) curriculum by 2018.

Article III

CONCLUSIONS

We, the participants of the relaunched Champions for Change, recognising that AIDS is far from over:

Urge CARICOM Member States to collaborate with PANCAP and UNAIDS to establish mechanisms to document, monitor and evaluate instances of violation of human rights and facilitate periodic reviews of implementation of the commitments to end the AIDS epidemic;

Also urge Member States to provide adequate budgetary allocations for ending AIDS.

Further urge Member States to use their influence to lobby at international fora for resources, the removal of barriers and other impediments to end AIDS;

Charge the PANCAP Coordinating Unit (PCU), in collaboration with UNAIDS and other partners, to make provision for institutionalised support for Champions for Change to effectively sustain their advocacy and actions.

We, the participants of the relaunched Champions for Change resolve to realise the intent of this Declaration.

13 September 2017

The Rt. Hon. Sir Charles Michael Dennis Byron, President, Caribbean Court of Justice urges new PANCAP Champions to use collective influence to help end AIDS

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, relaunched the Champions for Change initiative during a ceremony on Tuesday, September 12 at the Guyana Marriott Hotel, Georgetown.

Sixteen advocates for ending AIDS from across the region within civil society organisations, National AIDS Programme Managers, faith leaders, academia, youth, regional parliamentarians were recognized by PANCAP for exceptional work in advocacy.

The highlight of the event was a keynote address by The Rt. Hon. Sir Charles Michael Dennis Byron, President, Caribbean Court of Justice, who urged the new Champions to use their combined influence to make significant strides to reduce stigma and discrimination against HIV people living with HIV and to implement programmes and activities that seek to end the spread of HIV.

‘Your commitment to leveraging your individual and collective influence will play a key role in helping our Region, and the world, end this epidemic’ stated Sir Byron, ‘We can no longer sit back contently in our “rocking-chairs” of indecision and indecisiveness or intention and inertia and observe the undoing of all the advancements we have made. While we must celebrate those achievements, this is a time for A-C-T-I-O-N!’

In his examination of Judicial Attitudes and HIV and AIDS within the context of positioning the judiciary to effectively contribute to ending AIDS by 2030, Sir Byron contended that HIV affects every aspect of the human condition and, as such, it requires an informed, rational and just response if we are to be successful in ending the epidemic. ‘This premise is relevant to the judiciary in the discharge of its duties as guardian of the due administration of justice and protector of human rights’ contended Sir Byron, who also observed that law is an important structural determinant of health.

Sir Byron reasoned that judicial officers must exhibit and reinforce anti-discriminatory attitudes and practices that will supplement and underscore the efforts being made to end the epidemic. Judicial officers must manage what goes on in the courtroom, to ensure that persons who are susceptible to discriminatory treatment are treated fairly by all players in the judicial process including court staff, counsel, police officers, witnesses and such others.

Sir Byron proposed that it is incumbent for judicial officers to equip themselves with the requisite knowledge about HIV and AIDS, not merely knowledge of the law relating to HIV and AIDS, human rights, anti-discriminatory laws and the like, but also knowledge concerning the disease itself and issues which affect and promote the spread of the disease such as, for example, gender inequality.

‘Judicial officers must adopt a proactive stance to acquiring and updating this knowledge – we must obtain the relevant tools and materials’ stated Sir Byron.

Sir Byron shared his views on the role of the Caribbean Court of Justice. ‘As President of the CCJ, it is my view, that as an apex Court our reach should extend beyond the precincts of the Court and our adjudicatory functions. As a Caribbean institution, we must engage in activities which improve access to and the quality of justice for all and instill confidence in the fairness of the judicial system and the administration of justice’.

Sir Byron noted that in dealing with attitudes towards knowledge and capacity building, the propositions made in PANCAP’s Model Anti-Discrimination Bill for the establishment of a dedicated Anti-Discrimination Commission and Tribunal must be appreciated as they indicate a positive attitude towards capacity building. ‘The establishment of a dedicated grievance resolution system means that complaints will not be hampered by existing case backlogs within the current judicial systems across the region, which unfortunately still cause inordinate delay’, contended Sir Byron.

Assistant Secretary-General, Human and Social Development, CARICOM Secretariat, Dr Douglas Slater spoke on behalf of Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, Secretary-General, CARICOM. He stated that the ‘PANCAP Champions for Change initiative presents a unique opportunity to transfer the best practices learnt through PANCAP interventions, to the public health sector in the Region’. He described PANCAP as a best practice within the Region for coordinating and orchestrating effective interventions particularly among civil society organisations. He also referred to PANCAP interventions and capacity building for National AIDS programme managers as significant steps in the response to the spread of HIV.

Honourable Nicolette Henry, Minister of Education, Guyana in her remarks recommitted to using her influence to reduce stigma and discrimination within the health sector. She urged that health care practitioners should be professional and warned that stigma and discrimination are aiding the continued spread of HIV. ‘Treating people with dignity and respect should be at the forefront of the response to HIV,’ stated Minister Henry, ‘I am committed to speaking out against discrimination and will use my office to ensure people living with HIV receive the care and treatment they require’.

Ms Joan Didier, Board Member, Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition, in her remarks stated that civil society is ‘imploring policy makers, parliamentarians and all those with influence to ensure that people living with HIV are not discriminated against when they seek help from public health institutions’. ‘A scornful look or an attitude of concern and care from a nurse or doctor, could mean the difference between life or death for someone with HIV,’ stated Ms Didier, ‘Champions, I urge you to use your platform to empower people living with HIV’.

The ceremony concluded with Sir Byron issuing an inspired charge to the new PANCAP Champions. ‘Efforts over the next few years will decide whether we will end AIDS by 2030 or face resurgence’, stated Sir Byron, ‘In over four decades of the epidemic, science, social mobilization, political commitment and coordinated response among key stakeholders have made it possible to end AIDS. History shall not be kind to us if we become complacent now’.

The 2017 Champions for Change include Guyana’s First Lady, Mrs Sandra Granger for her outstanding leadership and championing of the ‘Every Caribbean Woman, Every Caribbean Child’ Initiative; the Executive Director of LIVE UP Dr. Allyson Leacock; Attorney-at-law Dr. Arif Bulkan; Canon of the Cathedral in the Diocese of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, Canon Garth Minott, Member of Parliament (Guyana), Dr. Frank Anthony; the Chief Executive Officer of the Institute of Law and Economics (ILE), Jamaica, Dwayne Gutzmer; Founder and Managing Director of the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) in Guyana, Joel Simpson; Executive Director of the Eastern Caribbean Alliance for Diversity and Equality (ECADE) Kenita Placide; Speaker of the National Assembly of Belize and Chairperson of the National AIDS Commission, Laura Tucker-Longworth; Chair of the Caribbean Forum for Liberation and Acceptance of Genders and Sexualities (CariFLAGS), Lucien Govaard; Guyana’s professional squash player, Nicolette Fernandes; President of the Barbados Evangelical Association, Rev. Dr Nigel Taylor; Director of the National HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Programme at the Bahamas Ministry of Health, Dr Nikkiah Forbes; Trinidad and Tobago Minister of Health, Terrence Deyalsingh; Deputy Programme Manager within the Communications Unit at the CARICOM Secretariat, Volderine Hackett; and Senior Pastor of The Poonah Open Bible Miracle Centre (POBMC), Trinidad and Tobago, Rev. Winston Mansingh.

– 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.

PANCAP Champions for Change Relaunched

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 relaunch the PANCAP Champions for Change initiative after an eleven-year hiatus. The two-day event will be held from Tuesday, September 12 to Wednesday, September 13 at the Guyana Marriott Hotel, Georgetown, Guyana. The keynote speaker will be the Rt. Hon. Sir Charles Michael Dennis Byron, President of the Caribbean Court of Justice.

Originally launched in 2004, the Forum will include a wide cross section of PANCAP members, partners and stakeholders engaged in discussions around the theme ‘Champions for change IV: ending AIDS by 2030’. During the event, over fifteen (15) champions will be identified from among the participants, which include civil society organisations, National AIDS Programme Managers, faith leaders, academia, the private sector, youth, regional parliamentarians and other advocates for HIV awareness.

‘Champions for Change IV will seek to align the expected contributions of the Champions for Change with international and regional commitments for ending AIDS’ stated Director of PANCAP, Mr Dereck Springer, ‘these include the UN High Level Meeting Political Declaration (June 2016); the Caribbean Cooperation in Health IV (2016), the PANCAP Justice for All Roadmap (2015/2016) and the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals’.

The Director further explained that the relaunched initiative will seek to assess the impact of recommendations for overcoming barriers to ending AIDS identified by major international and collaborating agencies, including the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM) and The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS).

Participants of Champions for Change IV will also discuss recommendations from the recent PANCAP consultations of Faith Leaders (February 2017), National AIDS Programme Managers and Key Partners Meeting (March 2017), Meeting of Youth Leaders: Sexual and Reproductive Health (April 2017), Regional Parliamentarians Forum (May 2017), and other related initiatives such as the Caribbean First Ladies/Spouses championing the ‘Every Caribbean Woman Every Caribbean Child’ Initiative (February 2017).

PANCAP intends to utilize the relaunched initiative to create achievable targets, goals and timelines that will guide the new champions in their advocacy and HIV awareness implementation with the overarching aim of significantly contributing to the end of AIDS by 2030.

– ENDS –

Context – PANCAP Champions for Change

In the Caribbean, there were 285,900 people living with HIV in 2015, a decline from 333,400 in 2010 and 450,000 in 2005. However, 87% of People living with HIV live in just 4 countries in the Caribbean: Haiti, Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Cuba. There is also a variation in coverage with Cuba having the highest at 69% and the Jamaica, the lowest at 32%. Most countries have committed to ‘test and treat’ using the new WHO guidelines and the UNAIDS 90-90-90 Targets. While the Caribbean is on track to be the first region in the world to eliminate MTCT- Cuba, being the first country in the world to do so—there has been an increase in new HIV infections in Caribbean by 9% 2010-2015 (UNAIDS GAP Report July 2016) with the main drivers being Cuba and Jamaica.

Many Caribbean countries still criminalise same sex relations and in those countries, key populations such as men who have sex with men, sex workers and transgender persons are subjected to pervasive stigma, discrimination and violence.

History of the PANCAP Champions for Change Initiative

The PANCAP Champions for Change was initiated in 2004 and convened in St. Kitts and Nevis. The event brought together multi-stakeholders including parliamentarians, faith leaders, youth, private sector representatives, international partners and People Living with HIV. It focused significantly on eliminating stigma and discrimination. PANCAP facilitated further stakeholder engagements among faith-based organisations in 2005 and media operatives in 2006.

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
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

Appointment of Regional Programme Manager – CariFLAGS

The Caribbean Forum for Liberation and Acceptance of Genders and Sexualities (CariFLAGS) wishes to announce the appointment of Mr Dane Lewis as Regional Programme Manager. Dane will lead the Secretariat’s work towards the effective implementation of the CariFLAGS project and management of the sub-grant from CVC/COIN titled, “Building LGBTI Leaders from the Inside Out” to strengthen LGBTI leadership in the Caribbean region. The Secretariat is currently based at the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) in Georgetown, Guyana. Dane can be reached by telephone at SASOD’s office on +592 225-7283 or directly by email at cariflags@sasod.org.gy.

Dane comes to the CariFLAGS Secretariat and Guyana, having served at the helm of leadership at J-FLAG in Jamaica for the past 9 years.

PANCAP Director reacts to launch of EMTCT – Plus

The following is a message from Director of PANCAP, Mr Dereck Springer on the EMTCT – Plus initiative:

The Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) recently launched the EMTCT – Plus: Framework for Elimination of Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV, Syphilis, Hepatitis B and Chagas. The objective of the EMTCT-Plus initiative is to achieve and sustain the elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, Syphilis, Chagas, and perinatal Hepatitis B (HBV) as a public health threat. It embraces the principles and lines of action of the Strategy for Universal Access to Health and Universal Health Coverage, building upon the lessons learned from the PAHO 2010 Strategy and Plan of Action for the EMTCT of HIV and Congenital Syphilis.

In 2016, 18,000 new infections occurred in the Caribbean. The region continues to be heavily impacted by the HIV epidemic with an estimated prevalence of 1.3% and 310,000 persons living with the disease at the end of 2016.

The investments made in HIV Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT) in the region is significant. The progress is evident.
In June 2015, Cuba became the first country in the world to achieve elimination of mother to child transmission (EMTCT) of HIV and Syphilis. This achievement was lauded by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a major victory in the fight against HIV and an important step in achieving an AIDS free generation. Since then, the region has accelerated efforts to achieve elimination status. Option B Plus is the defined standard of care and fully implemented. There have been significant investments in capacity building for health care workers across the region in delivering the highest quality of care that is based on scientific evidence. All pregnant HIV infected women are initiated on antiretroviral therapy as early as possible and maintained for life. Laboratory systems have been strengthened to provide quality assured early infant diagnosis to all exposed infants.

Across the region, our programmes are striving to ensure viral suppression throughout pregnancy and delivery, so that no baby is born HIV positive. At the end of 2016, ART coverage among HIV pregnant mothers is 74% and 1700 new infections were averted as a result of Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT) programmes. Currently, several countries in the region are undergoing the WHO validation process for HIV and Syphilis. Many more are in the final stages of preparing and submitting their documentation.

The EMTCT Plus initiative launched by WHO and aimed at the elimination of four (4) diseases, namely HIV, Syphilis, Hepatitis B and Chagas disease, is strategic in leveraging the momentum of HIV PMTCT initiatives. The Partnership envisages the EMTCT Plus initiative as a coordinated approach, building on well-established and successful platforms and systems of Maternal and Child Health (MCH) programmes. The successes and lessons learned around sustainability and integrating HIV PMTCT responses within MCH programmes will serve as key tools in guiding EMTCT of Syphilis, Hepatitis B and Chagas disease.

The Partnership welcomes the EMTCT Plus Initiative and commits to working with PAHO and all stakeholders in the achievement of this significant regional public health good.