Caribbean will not meet the Fast Track targets set for the end of 2020

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Caribbean will not meet the Fast Track targets set for the end of 2020

Monday, November 30, 2020

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GENEVA, Switzerland (CMC) — UNAIDS is calling on countries to make far greater investments in global pandemic responses and adopt a new set of bold, ambitious but achievable HIV targets, ahead of World AIDAS Day on Tuesday.

The UN-body said that the Caribbean will not meet the Fast Track set for the end of this year, noting that there were an estimated 330,000 people living with HIV in the region at the end of 2019.

Overall, Caribbean adult HIV prevalence was 1.1 per cent last year. In that year, 77 per cent of people living with HIV in the Caribbean knew their status as compared to the worldwide average of 81 per cent.

UNAIDS said 81 per cent of diagnosed Caribbean people were on treatment last year and that 80 per cent of those on antiretroviral therapy were virally suppressed.

The global average was significantly higher at 88 per cent.

Some countries have achieved elements of the 90–90–90 targets (90 per cent of people living with HIV aware of their HIV status, 90 per cent of diagnosed people on antiretroviral treatment and 90 per cent of those on treatment virally suppressed).

UNAIDS said Barbados has reached the target for testing while Guyana has exceeded it with 94 per cent of people living with HIV diagnosed. Haiti has gotten 98 per cent of diagnosed people on treatment. Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago have achieved viral suppression among at least 90 per cent of people living with HIV who are on treatment.

“This shows that within the region there is the capacity to deploy the people, policies and programmes to end AIDS,” said UNAIDS Caribbean Sub-regional Office Director, Dr James Guwani.

Last year there were 6,900 AIDS-related deaths in the Caribbean. Deaths due to AIDS decreased by 37 per cent since 2010. Total antiretroviral treatment coverage for the region was 63–71 per cent for women and 56 per cent for men.

New HIV infections decreased 29 per cent in the region since 2010. One-third of new HIV infections in the Caribbean in 2019 were among young people ages 15 – 24.

UNAIDS said while most Caribbean countries have been able to sustain HIV treatment access during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, there are concerns that other branches of the AIDS response have suffered.

“We need innovative strategies to ensure we do not lose ground around HIV testing and prevention because of COVID19,” said Dr Guwani.

UNAIDS said it is collaborating with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Pan Caribbean Partnership against HIV/AIDS (PANCAP), President's Emergency Fund for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and Caribbean Med labs Foundation (CMLF) on an advocacy strategy in support of HIV self-testing.

It said that the initiative will be launched later on Monday, ahead of World AIDS Day.

Meanwhile, UNAIDS is calling on all countries to step up global action and proposes bold new HIV targets for 2025

“As COVID-19 pushes the Caribbean AIDS response even further off track and the 2020 targets are missed, UNAIDS is urging the region to step up action around HIV testing and prevention,” it said, warning that if those targets are met, the world will be back on track to ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.

UNAIDS said that the global AIDS response was off track before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, but the rapid spread of the coronavirus has created additional setbacks. Modelling of the pandemic's long-term impact on the HIV response shows that globally there could be at least 123 000 additional new HIV infections and 69 000 additional AIDS-related deaths between 2020 and 2022.

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