Mon | Mar 4, 2024

Caribbean observing World AIDS Day

Published:Friday | December 1, 2023 | 9:10 AM
Contributed photo.

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, CMC – Caribbean countries are joining the global community on Friday in observing World AIDS Day with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) highlighting the key role of communities and civil society in the provision of HIV information and services such as testing, prevention and treatment in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC).

In Latin America and the Caribbean, around 2.5 million people live with HIV.

In 2022, about 130,000 people acquired the virus and 33,000 lost their lives from AIDS-related causes.

“We must recognise the fundamental part that communities play in accelerating the HIV response,” said PAHO Director, Dr Jarbas Barbosa.

“Today, let us renew our commitment and support for community leadership as we work together to eliminate AIDS in the region of the Americas,” he added.

World AIDS Day is being observed under the theme “Let Communities Lead” and PAHO said it emphasises the role that organisations led by people most disproportionately affected by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) play in the response to this four-decade epidemic.

“We are on the home stretch when it comes to ending AIDS as a public health challenge, but we will only achieve this goal if we empower the most affected communities that are being left behind,” Luisa Cabal, Regional Director of UNAIDS for Latin America and the Caribbean said.

“Community leadership is essential in all HIV plans and programmes, which must also have financing and protective regulations for their operation.”

To support the expansion of services to key populations and people living with HIV, PAHO and UNAIDS launched the “I am key” initiative in 11 countries in the region, leading to strengthened partnerships with communities and civil society to support an accelerated response and people-centred service models.

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