Caribbean begins to win HIV/AIDS fight

| 25/11/2014

(CNS): Although the Cayman Island has always had a relatively low rate of people infected and living with HIV, the battle against the virus is also beginning to be won in the region as a whole, even though it once had the second highest infection rates in the world.According to regional health officials, there has been a 49 per cent decline in HIV within the Caribbean and an improved quality of life for people living with HIV and AIDS. 90% of pregnant women receive services to prevent mother-to-child transmission, and patients now benefit from enhanced health systems and a scale-up of prevention, treatment, care and support services and access to affordable medicines.

Cayman Islands Health Minister Osbourne Bodden and the medical officer of health both attended the 13th Annual General Meeting of the Pan Caribbean Partnership (PANCAP) Against HIV and AIDS in Guadeloupe earlier this month, where plans to eliminate the virus by 2030 were discussed.

The two-day meeting, which takes place every two years, focused on the topic "Positioning the Partnership for Post 2015". A four-year plan for a regional strategic framework was endorsed and strategies to achieve universal access to prevention, treatment and care were identified.

Minister Bodden said, “The meeting offered an opportunity to share experiences with regional counterparts in order to improve our combined efforts. I am also excited to see the improvement in regional results which indicates that we are in fact making progress towards an AIDS-free Caribbean.” 

Targets to reduce HIV infections by 2020 include the goal that 90 per cent of those with HIV will be aware of their status, 90 per cent of those who are HIV positive will receive affordable healthcare, and 90 per cent of those on treatment will have undetectable viral loads. These objectives are seen as the necessary steps to take toward the goal of ending AIDS by 2030. 

Bodden added that the Cayman’s health ministry was committed to providing whatever support it takes to achieve these targets.

“I was delighted to learn that our prevalence is very low compared to other countries in the region. I commend the Public Health Department, Cayman AIDS Foundation and the Cayman Islands Red Cross for working collaboratively to enable our islands’ residents access to free testing- and I urge the public to continue to take advantage of this opportunity,” he added.

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