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Despite Progress, AIDS-Related Illnesses Remain Leading Cause of Death Among People Ages 25-44 in Caribbean, UNAIDS Report Says

June 20, 2008

AIDS-related illnesses remain the leading cause of death among people ages 25 to 44 in the Caribbean despite successful efforts to curb the spread of the disease, particularly in the reduction of mother-to-child HIV transmission and the increase in access to antiretroviral drugs, according to a UNAIDS report released earlier this month, the Caribbean Net News reports.

Bilali Camara, a UNAIDS consultant who presented the report at a meeting of the Pan Caribbean Partnership Against HIV and AIDS, said that there were 22 indicators on which the report was based. He added that countries should pay increased attention to indicators that fell below 50%, particularly those related to vulnerable populations and orphans. PANCAP Coordinating Unit Director Carl Browne also discussed the goals of the new Caribbean Regional Strategic Framework for 2008-2012, which include targets to:

In addition, Browne said the areas on which the framework should focus are the creation of an environment that fosters universal access; bolstering a multisectoral approach to the disease in the region; preventing HIV transmission; improving treatment, care and support; addressing capacity development; and strengthening monitoring, evaluation and research.

The meeting also included representatives of civil society groups, some of whom requested the development of policies to assist men who have sex with men. They also called for efforts to increase access to no-cost health and reproductive services among youth, as well as the integration of sex and HIV/AIDS age-appropriate education into primary and secondary schools. In addition, the civil society groups called for an evaluation of the factors that make mother-to-child transmission prevention efforts successful, including how to apply them to commercial sex workers, injection drug users and MSM.

United Nations Special Envoy for AIDS in the Caribbean George Alleyne said that the Caribbean Community plays a crucial role in HIV/AIDS efforts and urged the gathering not to take regionalism for granted. "United we stand, divided we fall," Alleyne said, adding that "unless the social partners come together, we will not be successful." He also said that the media and business coalitions should become active social partners (Caribbean Net News, 6/18).

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