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Major increase in HIV infections in Jamaica, Cuba - UN Envoy

Published:Sunday | June 4, 2017 | 12:00 AM

UN Special Envoy on HIV/AIDS to the Caribbean, Dr Edward Greene, has revealed that Jamaica and Cuba are among the two countries in the region which have seen major increases in HIV infections. 

Speaking at the recent Regional Testing Day 10th Anniversary Caribbean Launch Breakfast and Awards in Bridgetown, Barbados, Greene said after 10 years of decline in the prevalence rate, the Caribbean has experienced a nine per cent increase in new HIV infections. He says the rate places the region second to Eastern Europe and Central Asia. 

He says infection rates have increased among older groups within the population, while progress in stopping new infections has also stalled among adults. 

Greene says Jamaica has an HIV prevalence rate of 1.6 per cent of the population with the lowest coverage of treatment for people with AIDS. Only 32 per cent of people living with AIDS are receiving treatment in Jamaica. Cuba has the highest coverage with 67 per cent. 

The UN envoy on HIV/AIDS says the region has become complacent. He says although there has been significant success in reducing the number of HIV/AIDS related infections and deaths, and increases in the numbers of persons receiving treatment, infections are increasing. 

He says reduced funding from donor agencies; a reduction in Governmental support and a lack of adherence to treatment, which can all lead to serious reversals in the gains already made in the fight against HIV and AIDS, may be reasons for the region's complacency.