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Complacency blamed for new HIV infections in the Caribbean

Published:Saturday | July 23, 2016 | 10:43 AM

The UN Secretary General Special Envoy for HIV in the Caribbean, Dr Edward Greene, says complacency is largely responsible for the slippage in the AIDS response in the Caribbean.

He was speaking from Durban, South Africa where over 18,000 scientists, practitioners and members of civil society are meeting at the 21st International AIDS Conference.

Dr Greene was referring to the recent 2016 Prevention Gap report issued by UNAIDS just before the Conference began on July 18.

That report shows that after years of steady decline, the Caribbean saw a nine per cent rise in new infections between 2010 and 2015 and only Eastern Europe and Central Asia with a rate of 57 per cent had a higher increase.

The Caribbean statistics compared with a two per cent increase in Latin America, three per cent in Asia and the Pacific four per cent in the Middle East, North Africa, Eastern and Southern Africa for the same period.

In Western and Central Europe, North America and Western and Central Africa there have been marginal declines in new infections.

This global situation has caused Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS to sound the alarm that " if there is a resurgence now, the epidemic will be impossible to control”.

Elaborating on the situation for the Caribbean, Dr Greene said that it is necessary for a thorough analysis of the causes and direction of the prevention gap.

He says possible causes are inadequate attention to testing and treatment, including late testing of people with HIV; lack of care centers; and fall in the rates of retention of infected people in care.

According to Dr Greene, the complacency or inefficiency on the part of several governments has resulted in inadequate supplies of medicines and inadequate treatment regimes which fail to immediately treat those that have been diagnosed as HIV positive.