Caribbean to launch strategic plan against HIV/AIDS

The Pan-Caribbean Partnership Against HIV/AIDS (PANCAP) will launch in October a US$7.73 million four year strategic plan to fight HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean, the second-most affected region in the world after sub-Saharan Africa.

The announcement was made during the AIDS 2008 conference by representatives of the Caribbean Community (Caricom) Secretariat. PANCAP is a Caricom special project.

According to Avert, an international HIV/AIDS charity based in the United Kingdom, there were an estimated 230,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean by the end of 2007. About 20,000 people were newly infected during 2007, and there were 14,000 deaths due to the disease.

The prevalence of HIV is 1.2 per cent, but in two countries – the Bahamas and Haiti – more than two per cent of the adult population is living with the virus.

The strategic plan against HIV/AIDS, to be carried out from 2008 to 2012, has six priority areas, including monitoring evaluation and research; prevention of transmission; capacity development for HIV/AIDS services; and treatment, care and support.

“We have been undertaking actions against HIV/AIDS, but we are not seeing impacts yet; we believe that giving emphasis to research [in the strategic plan] will guide us to reach better results and to promote a change in the region”, Edward Greene, assistant secretary general of the Caribbean Community Secretariat, told SciDev.Net.

“A problem Caribbean countries face is that they are classified as middle-income countries, thus they are not apt to receive external aid. In other words, they are too rich to receive help but too poor for afford themselves”, Peter Piot, executive director of UNAIDS – the UN Programme on AIDS – told journalists.

Luisa Massarani, SciDev.Net/Latin America and the Caribbean

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