The Caribbean is expected to have a strong presence at the meeting on HIV/AIDS – with about 50 representatives, including Heads of Government, Ministers of Health and Foreign Affairs, and representatives of regional Civil Society organizations in HIV/AIDS, slated to attend.
The meeting, which will be held from 8th–10th June, will be held at the UN Headquarters in New York, is being 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,” a statement from the CARICOM Secretariat said.
The PANCAP/CARICOM Delegation will be headed by Prime Minister of St Kitts and Nevis Dr Denzil Douglas who is Chair of the Partnership and the lead CARICOM Head of Government with responsibility for Health, Human Resource Development and HIV and AIDS.
(Parts of this article were written with content submitted in a Caribbean360 release)