Collaboration of Caribbean countries necessary to fight HIV/AIDS

─ as PANCAP share-fair commences

Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony, M.P. has called on Caribbean nations to unite in the fight HIV/AIDS, especially with the current limited resources.

He said the landscape for HIV/AIDS is rapidly changing, as there are now many competing interests for developmental funding, including the ongoing war in Ukraine and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony

Global organisations such as the United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) are having a short fall of resources. While the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) is also rearranging its priorities as resources are becoming a challenge.

Dr. Anthony said more resources need to be deployed into the Caribbean.

“We have lots of best practices in our countries and once we are able to share that information, we can strengthen each other’s programme,” he relayed during his presentation at PANCAP’s share fair event, held at the Grand Coast Inn, on Thursday.

PANCAP’s Officer-in-Charge, Collin Kirton

He said steps need to be taken by Caribbean countries to improve and optimise existing programmes.

In Guyana, the National AIDS Programme Secretariat (NAPS), along with the Ministry of Health, has aggressively sought to ensure persons are tested and those living with HIV/AIDS are treated properly.

While speaking about the 95-95-95 by 2025 target, the minister said there’s a need for the region to rethink ways and means of getting resources and how to properly use those resources to reach the goal.

UNAIDS launched the 95-95-95 targets several years ago seeking to diagnose 95% of all HIV-positive individuals, provide antiretroviral therapy (ART) for 95% of those diagnosed and achieve viral suppression for 95% of those treated by 2030.

Officials at the share-fair

“In our regional response we have to rethink many of these things and to see what would work and what would not work and really honestly as a region to see what are the types of resources that we need to get…

And if we don’t have the resources, how are we going to be able to mobilise those resources to be able to get there,” the minister said.

The two-day share fair will focus on the usage of Dolutegravir (DTG) to treat patients living with HIV.

Participants from Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, and Guyana will discuss the use of this treatment in special population.

Participants in the share- fair event interacting.

PANCAP’s Officer-in-Charge, Collin Kirton said the share-fair will significantly enhance knowledge and skills in HIV implementation programmes.

He further said, “I urge you to use the knowledge gained during the next two days to make the regions transgression to DTG a success story that the rest of the world can emulate.”

The event is being held under the theme “Optimising treatment and improving the quality of care for people living with HIV using Dolutegravir” and is funded by the USAID.