Mind the Gaps!
At the end of 2020, significant gaps remained in the HIV testing and treatment cascade for the Caribbean Region to achieve the UNAIDS 90-90-90 Targets. With the new 95-95-95 Targets, these gaps can become wider if the rate of filling them is not quickly realized.
With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that has damaged the Region’s economies, placing health systems under additional strain and driving many people into financial peril, significant challenges lie ahead of us on the road to filling these gaps and ending AIDS in the Region.
The pandemic has not only disrupted services in terms of access but has also reduced national funds available for testing, treatment, and care. Moreover, the widening inequality gap in the Region, brought on by the pandemic, disproportionately prevents vulnerable groups from accessing HIV and other essential services.
To protect the gains made over the last decade and for us to fill these gaps, quick and creative responses must be implemented immediately. These responses must be based on evidence and must be effective in ensuring that at-risk groups are protected. New HIV infections must be reduced, and those who are diagnosed must be linked and retained in care and become virally suppressed.
Countries must implement social protection strategies and policies that benefit vulnerable groups, especially People Living with HIV and key populations. Strategies to improve testing such as HIV self-testing must be scaled up, and other interventions to improve treatment and care and retention must also be quickly implemented and scaled up.