Caribbean records increase in HIV/AIDS cases

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The United Nations Special Envoy on HIV to the Caribbean Dr. Edward Greene is warning of an increase in HIV/AIDS infections in the Caribbean.

Speaking at the recent Regional Testing Day 10th Anniversary Caribbean Launch Breakfast and Awards here, Greene said that findings in the 2016 UNAIDS Gap report state that HIV infections are on the rise in the region.

He said that while the major increases have occurred in Cuba and Jamaica the greatest area of alarm is the fact that progress in stopping new infections has stalled among adults and HIV infections are increasing among older groups in some countries.

“One of my colleagues has flippantly referred to this as the ‘Viagra Effect,” he added.

Greene told the ceremony that after 10 years of decline in the prevalence rate the Caribbean has witnessed a nine per cent overall increase in new HIV infections.

“This is shamefully second the Eastern Europe and Central Asia,” he said, noting that the prevalence rates in the region vary from 1.8 per cent of the population living with AIDS in Haiti and 1.6 in Jamaica to approximately one per cent and lower in Barbados and the OECS countries.

Greene said that less than 50 per cent of the people in the region living with AIDS are receiving treatment. Cuba has the highest coverage with 67 per cent and Jamaica the lowest with 32 per cent coverage. It is estimated that only two out of every five persons in the region know their status

Greene said the region is facing a conspiracy of complacency because, while there has been great success in reducing the number of HIV AIDS related infections and deaths as well as the increase in the numbers of persons receiving treatment infections are increasing.

He said possible reasons for this complacency are reduced funding from donor agencies, a falloff 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. (CMC)

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