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May 10, 2018

Following Strides, Caribbean Aims to Eradicate Epidemic by 2020

Dereck Springer

The Pan-Caribbean Partnership against HIV/AIDS (PANCAP) describes its ambitious strategy for ending HIV/AIDS in about twelve years as “test, treat and defeat.”  Director Dereck Springer says the goal is for ninety percent of those living with HIV to know their status; ninety percent of HIV-positive persons to begin treatment; and ninety percent of those being treated to suppress their immunoviral load to where the disease has minimal impact on their lifestyle. He told us that there have already been strides made in eliminating certain aspects of the disease, and faith leaders play a critical role, especially in ending stigma and discrimination against AIDS sufferers.

 

Dereck Springer, Director, Pan-Caribbean Partnership against HIV/AIDS

“We recognize that faith leaders have a critical role to play in the response: both in terms of providing support for people living with and affected by HIV; for addressing the issue of stigma and discrimination, that really prevents people sometimes from coming forward to access prevention treatment, care and support services; and also delivering services. Faith leaders can deliver prevention services – many of them are engaged in providing voluntary counseling [and] testing services; some of them are providing support services; some of the faith leaders are providing support for children who are living with HIV. And so, how can we ensure that faith leaders, in a coordinated way, can support the national response to HIV?  We have seen several successes: our region had the sharpest decline, more than any other region of the world in new infections, a forty-eight percent decline a few years ago. Recently we have also seen a decline in the number of AIDS deaths, because people are accessing treatment, so we have seen about twenty-three percent reduction between 2010 and 2016 in the number of AIDS deaths. Our region became the first region in the world for one of our countries, Cuba, to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV and congenital syphilis in 2015, and six other countries joined Cuba on World AIDS Day, so we now have seven countries in our region that have achieved elimination of mother to child transmission; that is a first when you look at other regions of the world.”

 

Springer also pointed to reductions in the price for anti-retroviral medications.

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