by Linda Straker
- Grenada and other Caribbean islands exceed 2020 United Nations General Assembly targets
- From 2010 to 2020, AIDS-related deaths in Caribbean declined by 51%
- New HIV infections decreased by 28%
Grenada and other islands in the Caribbean during the 10-year period of 2010 to 2020 were able to reduce HIV transmission and AIDS-related deaths, exceeding the 2020 targets set by the United Nations General Assembly in 2016.
According to the latest UNAIDS report from 2010 to 2020, AIDS-related deaths in the Caribbean declined by 51%. During the same 10-year period, new HIV infections in the region decreased by 28%.
“Evidence that the targets were not just aspirational but achievable,” said a news release from UNAIDS, days before the United Nations General Assembly High-Level Meeting on AIDS, in New York and online during the week of 7 June 2021. The participants are expected to commit to achieving a new set of targets for 2025 to end AIDS by 2030.
“In the period 2020 members of key population communities and their sexual partners accounted for 60% of new infections. Forty percent of new infections occurred among the remaining population. As of the end of 2020, 82% of people living with HIV in the Caribbean were aware of their status. Two-thirds (67%) of all people living with HIV were on treatment. Fifty-nine percent (59%) of people living with HIV in the region were virally suppressed last year,” said the section of the report which focuses on the Caribbean.
Dr James Guwani Director of the UNAIDS Caribbean Office in a news release noted that most countries in the region stepped up around financing treatment and transitioned to providing HIV treatment to all diagnosed people. However, increased focus is needed on combination prevention and psychosocial support for people living with HIV. “Forty years into the AIDS response, we know that our challenge is about far more than testing and treatment,” Dr Guwani said. “We need to do a better job at addressing the social determinants that lead to new infections, delayed diagnosis, and poor adherence.”
Some of the recommendations specific for the Caribbean include: Strengthen regional and national ownership and governance of HIV responses; Implement policies that remove structural barriers to HIV services; Repeal laws and policies that criminalise people living with and at risk of HIV; Strengthen information systems for monitoring the HIV response and providing evidence for strategic decisionmaking.
The report which is called Global Commitment Local Action shows that countries with progressive laws and policies and strong and inclusive health systems have had the best outcomes against HIV.
“In those countries, people living with and affected by HIV are more likely to have access to effective HIV services, including HIV testing, pre-exposure prophylaxis (medicine to prevent HIV), harm reduction, multimonth supplies of HIV treatment and consistent, quality follow-up and care,” it said.
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