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Caribbean hopes to become first region to end AIDS

Thursday, July 24, 2014    

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MELBOURNE, Australia, CMC — Prime Minister Dr Denzil Douglas of St Kitts Nevis said the Caribbean aspires to become the first region in the world to end AIDS.

"We did this for polio and smallpox in the late 1980s and can do so for AIDS," Douglas told delegates at the 20th International AIDS Conference now underway in Australia.

The St Kitts Nevis Prime Minister, who has responsibility for health matters within the quasi cabinet of the Caribbean Community (Caricom), said the need to create viable partnerships aimed at sustainable development can be achieved through international cooperation and partnerships of various kinds.

"In the case of the Caribbean, this is not only limited to North-South relations but also embraces South-South Cooperation...for the Caribbean we have learnt the need to create indigenous regional structures rooted in the integration process that link community efforts with leadership at the highest political level," he said.

Concerning the treatment of HIV, Douglas said this remains one of the most inspiring achievements in global health history.

"Since 2001, the number of people receiving HIV treatment in low-and middle-income countries has risen from a mere handful to more than 12 million in early 2014. These advances are saving lives, with the number of AIDS-related deaths falling by 30 per cent from 2005 to 2012 worldwide," he explained.

Douglas also pointed to the need for AIDS to be positioned within the broad context of health, poverty and equality.

"Let it be our clarion call resonating at Small Island Developing State (SIDS) at the UN General Assembly, in every region and every country. Let us acknowledge that we have made much progress but AIDS is far from over. Let us continue to advocate for AIDS to be retained in the post-2015 development agenda.

He told participants there is need to sustain and reconfigure the unfinished Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) within the post

2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

"The progress in attaining the international targets in the MDGs among SIDS shows marked improvements over the past decade. However, the recently released gap analysis undertaken by UNAIDS demonstrates, at least for the Caribbean, the need for more robust financing models based on shared responsibility, accelerated and affordable treatment regimens and accenting the elimination of HIV related sigma," he said.

Douglas stressed that achieving justice for all should be a fundamental requirement for getting to zero discrimination as the ultimate goal of human development.

"I mention this mainly because we in the Caribbean have identified the elements of 'justice for all' as our overarching inclusive strategy," he said.

He said the recent Caricom Heads of Government conference deferred the Justice for All Declaration to make provision for more national consultations.

The 20th International AIDS Conference opened on Sunday with Michel Sidibé, the executive director of the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) calling for an end to AIDS by 2030.

Sidibé has urged world leaders to "stop the hypocrisy and promote sexual and reproductive health and rights."

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