Caribbean Plans Strong Presence at UN Meeting On HIV/AIDS

(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana) – The Caribbean will have a strong presence at the United Nations High Level Meeting (UNHLM) on HIV/AIDS on 8-10 June 2011, at UN Headquarters, New York, USA. More than 50 representatives, including Heads of Government, Ministers of Health and Foreign Affairs, First Ladies and representatives of regional Civil Society organizations in HIV/AIDS, will be in attendance.

The meeting, called to undertake a comprehensive review of the progress achieved in realizing the UN’s 2001 Declaration of Commitment on HIV and AIDS and the 2006 Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS, will also provide an opportunity for promoting the continued engagement of leaders in a comprehensive global response to AIDS. Five themes have been identified: Shared responsibility; Prevention; Innovation and new technologies; Women, Girls and HIV; and Integrating the HIV and AIDS response with broader health and development agendas.

Among the issues of particular relevance to the objectives of this High Level Meeting, is the Declaration of St Maarten resulting from Pan Caribbean Partnership Against HIV/AIDS (PANCAP)’s Tenth Annual General Meeting in October /November 2010, in St. Maarten. In that Declaration, the Partnership resolved to place universal access to prevention, care and treatment at the centre of its programme; and by 2015: to eliminate mother to child transmission; increase access to care by 80 percent; reduce infections by 50 per cent; and accelerate the agenda to achieve human rights for People Living with HIV (PLHIV), including eliminating travel restrictions.

In recognition that human rights for all and particularly for vulnerable communities are fundamental to impacting the epidemic, a recent PANCAP/UNAIDS brief called on Governments to place explicit emphasis on protecting and promoting human rights as a proven effective means to advance public health. The brief draws attention to recent modes of transmission data, which highlight that some key populations, particularly Men who have sex with Men (MSM) and sex workers/clients are significant parts of the epidemic in some countries in the Region.

It points out that these populations, which also include transgender people, people who use drugs, prisoners, people affected by humanitarian emergencies, vulnerable migrants and substance abusers, suffer from very elevated risk and infection in specific contexts. In these contexts, from a public health perspective, these populations need special attention to access services.

For CARICOM/PANCAP the Declaration of St Maarten, the eight priorities of the Caribbean Strategic Framework (2008-2012) and the UNAIDS outcome document from the Global Task Team on the Elimination of Mother-to-child transmission and keeping mothers and children alive are guiding principles for action.

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