PRESS RELEASE:-As the Caribbean prepares to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of Regional Testing Day for HIV on Friday June 30th the need for testing has been underscored against the background of worrying statistics from the United Nations.
United Nations Special Envoy on HIV to the Caribbean Dr. Edward Greene says findings in the 2016 UNAIDS Gap report state that HIV infections are on the rise in the region.
He says 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”.
Dr. Greene who was speaking at the recent Regional Testing Day 10th Anniversary Caribbean Launch Breakfast and Awards in Bridgetown Barbados lamented the fact that after ten years of decline in the prevalence rate the Caribbean has witnessed a 9 percent overall increase in new HIV infections “This is shamefully second the Eastern Europe and Central Asia”
The United Nations Special Envoy on HIV to the Caribbean says that prevalence rates in the region vary from 1 point 8 percent of the population living with AIDS in Haiti and 1 point 6 in Jamaica to approximately 1 percent and lower in Barbados and the OECS countries. He points out that less than 50 percent of the people in the region living with AIDS are receiving treatment. Cuba has the highest coverage with 67 percent and Jamaica the lowest with 32 percent coverage. It is estimated that only 2 out of every 5 persons in the region know their status
Dr. Eddie 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.