Saint Lucia Conference told HIV not a ‘death sentence’

The 15th annual Caribbean Cytometry & Analytical Society’s (CCAS) expert summit, currently underway here, has been told that “everyone in society must know and understand and believe that HIV is not a death sentence.”

The comments came from CCAS Chairperson, Professor Clive Landis, at the opening ceremony of the August 26 – 30 event at the Coco Palm Hotel.

He asserted that people must understand that persons living with HIV who have suppressed virus due to treatment are not infectious.

Landis pointed to successes of the Caribbean HIV response, including the
validation of seven countries and territories as having eliminated mother-to-child HIV transmission.

But he noted that while the region has embraced the power of antiretroviral
treatment and viral suppression to prevent HIV infections in newborns, there is inadequate understanding among the general public about how successful treatment can also reduce sexual transmission.

“Despite our achievements in tackling the HIV epidemic, we are not done,” Professor Landis declared.

According to the UNAIDS 2018 Global AIDS Update, there were an estimated 310,000 people living with HIV in the Caribbean at the end of 2017.

Seventy-three percent of people living with HIV in the region were aware of their status.

Of all people living with HIV, 57% were on treatment and 40% were virally suppressed.

To reach the targets that will set the Caribbean on track to end AIDS, the region must close the gaps in testing and treatment, it has been reported.

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