GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Mar 2, CMC – The Pan-Caribbean Partnership against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP) says it will host the seventh meeting of National AIDS Programme (NAP) managers and key stakeholders in Trinidad on March 11.
PANCAP, which is the mechanism that provides a structured and unified approach to the Caribbean’s response to the HIV epidemic, said the three-day meeting will be attended by representatives from more than 130 NAP managers, chief medical officers, senior government officials, regional partners, youth organisations as well as civil society organizations that work with people living with HIV.
It said the meeting is being hosted 22 months ahead of the end of 2020 deadline for reaching the UNAIDS 90–90–90 Targets , which is 90 per cent of people living with HIV diagnosed, 90 per cent of diagnosed people on treatment and 90 per cent of those on treatment virally suppressed.
“The purpose of the meeting is to update programme managers and all stakeholders involved in the HIV response on national and regional commitments, progress on current global strategies, identify innovative ways to address gaps identified in the UNAIDS 2018 Global AIDS Monitoring (GAM) Report and to strengthen the Caribbean regional HIV response.
“The meeting will facilitate information and best practice sharing; peer learning and technical cooperation among countries to strengthen ownership; improve harmonisation and sustainability of the region’s HIV response,” PANCAP said in a statement.
It said critical issues highlighted by the GAM report, which will form the basis of discussion, include the fact that there is an estimated 310,000 people living with HIV in the Caribbean at the end of 2017.
“The gap to achieving the First 90 of the 90-90-90 Targets in 2017 was 54,800 people living with HIV who do not know their status. The gap to achieving the Second 90 in 2017 is 74, 400 people living with HIV who are not on treatment. The gap to achieving the Third 90 in 2017 was attaining viral suppression of an additional 103,000 people living with HIV. “
PANCP said participants will be engaged in discussions on strategies for addressing these gaps as well as exploring what sustainability means for individual countries in the context of their existing economic realities and creating a roadmap for integration as a key strategy for sustainability.
Stakeholders will also receive updates on the achievements and synergies of the PANCAP, Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC-COIN) and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Global Fund grants and the transfer of regional public goods developed under these grants. Development and regional partners will also provide updates on programmes and activities that are contributing to the achievements of the goals and targets of the Caribbean Regional Strategic Framework on HIV (CRSF).
The National AIDS Programme coordinator in the Turks and Caicos Islands and the National AIDS Programme Managers Representative on the PANCAP Governance Bodies, Aldora Robinson, believes that the meeting could be a “game changer” at this critical point in the region’s HIV response.
“In an environment of reduced international funding for HIV, calls for country ownership, and the global vision of an AIDS-Free Generation, NAP Managers and CSOs must work together to establish innovative ways to address the gaps in the response as highlighted in the GAM report,” she said.
She noted that the critical issues for discussion include increasing access to HIV and STI testing for key populations, including transgender and youth, and scaling-up Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) testing within the HIV combination prevention approach.
Countries will also commit to implementing innovative strategies for reaching, testing and retaining persons on treatment and for preventing HIV among key populations and reporting on progress.
PANCAP said that the meeting is expected to culminate with an agreement by all stakeholders on strategies for addressing gaps in achieving the 90-90-90 Targets, a critical element of PANCAP’s vision for an AIDS-free Caribbean.