May 3, 2013
The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries requested continued international financial assistance to fight HIV/AIDS. St. Kitts-Nevis Prime Minister Dr. Denzil Douglas, who is responsible for health issues among CARICOM members, made the request in his speech in Barcelona, Spain, to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the XIV AIDS Conference. Douglas said that, 10 years after signing an agreement with six pharmaceutical companies in Barcelona, CARICOM countries now can aim for an AIDS-free generation.
Douglas informed delegates, including Dr. Luiz Loures, deputy executive director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), that although the Caribbean is satisfied with its achievement so far, it only would be able to continue the work if it received the necessary funding. Since resources were scarce at the present time, he proposed a process of shared responsibility engaging the private sector, focusing on accountability, and keeping commitments to accelerate the response for investments in treatment and prevention. Douglas also mentioned the need to increase demands for elimination of stigma and discrimination.
He noted that AIDS-related deaths have decreased by approximately 50 percent and more people with HIV infection have access to antiretroviral drugs. He acknowledged the need to increase access to treatment for the most at-risk populations and to make special provision for the poor and vulnerable. To this end, he said Caribbean governments, in collaboration with UNAIDS, are pursuing an investment strategy for HIV financing. The strategy is important for identifying priorities, measureable targets, and results. Douglas explained that the Pan Caribbean Partnership against HIV/AIDS Declaration, issued in November 2010, incorporated the targets, and that the targets in the declaration are consistent with those in the outlined Political Declaration of the UN High Level Meeting in June 2011. He touched on some of the goals of the Caribbean communities such as to be the first in the developing world to eliminate mother-to-child transmission by 2015, but noted that regression also is a possibility. Douglas maintained that the Caribbean people are resolved to continue with universal coverage and for this purpose they seek the support of colleagues and friends in Barcelona.