New HIV/AIDS cases a concern
THE NUMBER of new cases of HIV/AIDS infections being reported each year remains a deep concern to health officials.
Minister of Health Donville Innis, speaking at the first annual meeting of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) United States Caribbean Regional Partnership Framework Annual Meeting held at Hilton Barbados, said greater effort needed to be made on behavioural change.
Inniss said that over the past several years, Caribbean countries had made tremendous strides in improving prevention, care and treatment services for those infected with, and affected by, HIV/AIDS.
He said although the number of cases was small when compared with other global “hot spots,” the Caribbean’s fragile small-island economies and second-highest regional HIV prevalence rate in the world made it a high-profile region in the global fight against AIDS.
Despite 21 Caribbean countries having national strategic plans on HIV/AIDS by 2006, Inniss said that the national health care infrastructure in many countries was not adequately equipped to address the individual and societal challenges posed by the epidemic.
Brent Hardt, charge d’affaires, United States Embassy to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, reminded participants that their support, ideas, vision and expertise were effective to the implementation of the framework and their continued support to building responsive governments systems and appropriate health care policies.
Launched in 2003, the PEPFAR programme has so far treated more than two million HIV-infected people, provided care for ten million, and prevented seven million new infections. It represents the largest commitment in history made by a nation to a single disease.
The programme will provide over $100 million over five years to build the capacity of national governments to develop and maintain sustainable, comprehensive and effective national HIV and AIDS programmes. (LK)