HIV prevention response inadequate – PANCAP

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The Pan Caribbean Partnership Against HIV/AIDS (PANCAP) recently conducted research in the Region, which found that the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) prevention response is inadequate in key populations.

According to the PANCAP Coordinating Unit, the Priority Areas Coordinating Committee (PACC), the technical group of the PANCAP Executive Board, commissioned an evaluation of the Caribbean Regional Strategic Framework on HIV and AIDS (CRSF) between 2014 and 2018.

This Committee bears the responsibility of coordinating and overseeing the implementation of operational plans for the CRSF.

“The evaluation found that while the Caribbean has made progress in responding to the HIV epidemic, the impact of the prevention response has been inadequate, particularly among key populations,” PANCAP said in a statement.

New HIV infections decline

Statistics provided by the organisation, which were collected in six strategic priority areas revealed that the annual number of new HIV infections among adults in the Caribbean declined by only 18 per cent from 2010 to 2017, from 19,000 to 15,000.

Majority of the new HIV infections, which represented 68 per cent of the total population was accounted for by Men who have sex with Men (MSM), Sex Workers (SWs) and their clients, transgender persons, and persons who use drugs PANCAP disclosed.

New infections among children also fell from about 2300 in 2010 to 1100. Although significant progress has been made in eliminating mother-to-child transmission of HIV, available data for the period 2015 to 2017 showed that HIV-infected pregnant women receiving Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) to reduce HIV transmission declined from 92 per cent in 2014 to 79 per cent in 2015 and 75 per cent in 2016 and 2017 respectively, illustrating a significant decrease that requires investigation.

Nonetheless, there has been progress in placing more people living with HIV on treatment, however, much more needs to be done to increase the numbers and to retain people on treatment, PANCAP reported.

Financing decreasing

According to PANCAP, the Global financial resources to support the HIV epidemic have been decreasing since 2011.

“However, domestic financing has improved during the implementation of the CRSF 2014 – 2018. UNAIDS 2018, noted that domestic resources increased between 2006 – 2017 by 124 per cent, while international resources declined by 16 per cent”. As of the end of 2017, domestic resources were contributing significantly to the cost of ART and the overall treatment programme.  Despite this trend, national resources to support services to achieve prevention continue to be low, with the implication that the gains could be reversed if this gap is not quickly filled,” the organisation explained.

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