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Speech

World AIDS Day 2018 Message from PANCAP Champions for Change

December 1, 2018

Do you know your status? If you do not, as Champions for Change we urge you to do so this World AIDS Day so you can feel empowered.

Know Your Status is the theme for World AIDS Day this year. It is both a call to action and an opportunity to celebrate the achievements that have been made and recommit ourselves to continue the work towards the end of AIDS as a public health threat by 2030. The success of the regional response is evident in significant achievements for the Caribbean especially since seven of our Caribbean countries were recognized on World AIDS Day last year for eliminating the transmission of the HIV virus from Mother to an unborn child. In April 2015, Cuba became the first country in the world to achieve the target for elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and Congenital Syphilis, along with 6 additional countries (Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Montserrat, and Saint Kitts and Nevis, in 2017).

UNAIDS World AIDS Day 2018 data collected in 2017, reveals that we still have much to do and each of us needs to take action.

  • Our Caribbean region still has 310, 000 people living with HIV
  • The number of new infections among adults stands at 15, 000 [11 000–26 000] as reported in 2017.
  • Adults aged 15 years and over, there are reports of 14,000 new infections [10 000 – 24 000]
  • New infections among children (aged 0–14 years) are an estimated 1100 [710–1900] in
  • AIDS-related deaths in 2017 were an estimated 10 000 [7100–17 000]
  • 181,000 Caribbean people living with HIV were on treatment in 2017
  • Treatment coverage for pregnant women accessing treatment is at 75% but only 58% for adults 15 years and older and just 52% for children 0-14 years and 57% overall for all people living with HIV.

This tells us that despite these efforts and in spite of the overall gains towards epidemic control, throughout the Region, prevalence continues to be higher in key populations, including women, MSM, transgender, sex workers, youth, migrants and mobile populations, incarcerated persons and people who use drugs. The legal, social and cultural barriers that drive transmission and prevent key populations from accessing comprehensive and high-quality health services are deeply rooted in Caribbean cultures and societies. As the Region is faced with rapidly declining donor support to HIV programming, interventions targeted at key populations, including through community-based organizations (CSO), are likely to be most affected, especially as national programs are challenged to find the resources needed to scale-up treatment programs in line with Treat All. At a minimum, there must be a commitment at the regional and national level to sustaining investment in prevention, treatment, communication for development, moral and values education and care programs.

It is now, therefore, a strategic imperative to work in partnership and collaboration with all stakeholders, operating as a unified, coherent and cohesive whole (without prejudice to individual/respective organizations objectives) in order to achieve the overall goal of ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.

Each of us must do more, and we can start by simply doing an HIV test- today or as soon as possible- which will allow us to seek treatment or continue and improve our prevention efforts. Our region needs our collective action!