Friday, April 19, 2024

UNAIDS executive director visits Barbados

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BY MAKING THE political commitment and investments to achieve the Fast Track targets proposed by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Barbados can end AIDS as a public health threat in 15 years.

This suggestion was one of the topics discussed when executive director of UNAIDS, Michel Sidibé, met recently with Minister of Social Care, Constituency Empowerment and Community Development, Steven Blackett; Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Tennyson Springer; chairperson of the National HIV/AIDS Commission, Dr Wendy Sealy; and director of the National HIV/AIDS Commission, Jacqueline Wiltshire Gay.

During his two-day visit, Sidibé also met with representatives of civil society to discuss their opportunities and challenges as it relates to scaling up prevention, treatment and care services for people living with HIV and other key populations. He also visited the Ladymeade Reference Unit, which offers outpatient care and state of the art laboratory services for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean.

  Prior to the executive director’s visit, UNAIDS had announced that taking a Fast Track approach over the next five years will allow the world to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030. The new set of targets that would need to be reached by 2020 include achieving 90-90-90: 90 per cent of people living with HIV knowing their HIV status; 90 per cent of people who know their HIV-positive status on treatment; and 90 per cent of people on treatment with suppressed viral loads.

It was noted that Barbados has achieved significant gains in HIV prevention and treatment over the last decade. The country has surpassed the new global target for testing – reaching 92 per cent – and leads the Caribbean in terms of the proportion of people living with HIV who have a suppressed viral load due to full treatment, registering 39 per cent.

During the meeting, Sidibé  also sought to encourage Barbados as it continued its progress on the World Health Organization validation process to be certified as having eliminated HIV transmission from mothers to children.

Sidibé was on his second visit to the Caribbean, and during this mission, he also visited Jamaica, Cuba and Panama.

UNAIDS leads and inspires the world to achieve its shared vision of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths. It unites the efforts of 10 UN organisations and the World Bank, and works closely with global and national partners to maximise results for the AIDS response. (BGIS)

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