Top UNAIDS official to visit Caribbean countries

Thursday, November 05, 2015

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BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, (CMC) -- The Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Michel Sidibé, will visit several Caribbean islands later this month.

Sidibé will make his first visit to Barbados from September 7 to 8, holding talks with stakeholders, including Health Minister John Boyce; Minister of Social Care, Constituency Empowerment and Community Development Steven Blackett and the chairperson of the National HIV/AIDS Commission Dr Wendy Sealy, on the island's progress toward ending AIDS as a public health threat.

Sidibé, who will be making his second visit to the Caribbean, will also visit Jamaica, Cuba and Panama.

UNAIDS recently announced the "Fast-Track" approach as it moves towards ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030.

It said that the new set of targets to be achieved by that date include achieving 90-90-90: 90 per cent of people living with HIV knowing their HIV status; 90% of people who know their HIV-positive status on treatment; and 90 per cent of people on treatment with suppressed viral loads.

UNAIDS said Barbados has achieved remarkable gains in HIV prevention and treatment over the last decade.

"The country has surpassed the new global target for testing (92 per cent) and leads the Caribbean in terms of the proportion of people living with HIV who have a suppressed viral load due to full treatment (39 per cent). "Barbados is currently engaged in the World Health Organization (WHO) validation process to be certified as having eliminated HIV transmission from mothers to children."

UNAIDS said that by making the political commitment and investments to achieve the Fast Track targets, Barbados can end AIDS as a public health threat in 15 years, and that Sidibé's aim will also be to "discuss the opportunities and challenges surrounding Fast Track as well as to encourage continued progress on the WHO Elimination of Mother to Child Transmission validation."

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