Basseterre, St. Kitts (SKNIS) — By the end of 2015, St. Kitts and Nevis is expected to be among a small number of countries, apart from Cuba, that will have zero transmissions of HIV from mother to child.
Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris reinforced this expectation upon his return to the Federation after attending the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly held September 28th to October 3rd, 2015.
He described such an accomplishment as momentous.
“So this again would be significant,” Prime Minister Harris said, while addressing the support systems provided for mothers in St. Kitts and Nevis, particularly the free anti-retrovirals. “That support has had the desired impact and we would want to continue these and to ensure that the treatment and the medicines for those who are victims of HIV/AIDS continue to be made available, at affordable prices, so that more people can use them and therefore can sustain their life.”
The leader of the Federation, who is also the CARICOM lead spokesperson on health and human resource and HIV/AIDS, said that he had been able to appeal to the global community to support the work of UNAIDS (the Joint United Nations programme on HIV/AIDS), PANCAP (Pan Caribbean Partnership against HIV and AIDS) and CARPHA (Caribbean Public Health Agency) as well as the health institutions in the region. He noted that these agencies had made significant advancement toward the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in the region.
“In particular, the Caribbean region, stands a very good chance of being the first region in the entire world to achieve an end to AIDS by 2030,” the Prime Minister stated. “That would be a remarkable achievement adding to other firsts which the Caribbean had enjoyed, such as being the firsts region to achieve an end to polio.”
The appeal had therefore been directly made for an intensification of support for HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean region, rather than the withdrawal that had been suggested in some circles.
“If realized [the attainment of zero cases of AIDS by 2030], it will speak volumes for the functional cooperation that exists in the area of health within the CARICOM region, and also when compared to other regions, our own approach to these difficult issues has been one that has led to efficacious outcomes,” Dr. Harris said.
On a personal note, Prime Minister Harris revealed that a defining moment for him had been when an African pre-teen male victim of HIV had bravely addressed the United Nations gathering of officials and dignitaries and had “relived the agonies” of stigma and discrimination. This had actively demonstrated the necessity for the appeals for more global support toward HIV/AIDS elimination.