Tue | Dec 12, 2017

AIDS foundation calls for increase response in the Caribbean

Published:Wednesday | November 8, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Dr Kevin Harvey

During this week, an international forum is bringing to Haiti more than 150 national and international specialists to spur the dialogue on what are the key requirements to end AIDS in the region.

AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), which serves populations in more than a dozen countries in the Caribbean and in Latin America, has been a partner in implementing this joint effort from its inception in Mexico in 2014 and will continue to do so.

AHF, however, remains concerned about the slow implementation of the test-and-treat strategy within the region, and about the reduction as well as the inefficiency of utilisation of existing donor funds.

"The percentage of overall funding allocated to treatment in the region is not in keeping with the evidence, which now indisputably indicates that getting to sustained viral suppression removes the risk of transmission. Yet, still only a half of those infected are on treatment, and worse, maybe less than half of those in treatment is virally suppressed," said Dr Kevin Harvey, Caribbean regional director.

"We must continue to discuss sustainability of the response and country ownership in light of retreating donors and restricted funding; however, we believe there is an even more urgent need to discuss the mammoth task of doubling and, in some cases, triple the number of persons receiving treatment. Moreover, the social barriers that limit one's ability to stay on treatment, we have hardly started to address."

 

EXPANDING ITS ROLE

 

"AHF is committed to expanding its role in the response in this region and around the world as we scale up the resources it provides in the LAC. Our goal is to directly support one million persons in care by 2020", said Michael Kahane, Southern Bureau chief.

"And we will not be neglecting small developing states such as Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago."

Dr Patricia Campos, chief of the Latin America Bureau, pointed out that AHF is also calling on national governments "to address, as a national emergency, the implementation of treatment for those who have the virus, considering that test and treat is an intervention that will not only save the lives of the individuals treated, but will protect the whole society due to the resultant reduction in transmission at the community level."

"The evidence is clear and well documented, we would have failed the next generation if we retreat now," Dr Harvey concludes.