This was confirmed by the Deputy Prime Minister of the St. Kitts & Nevis, Mr. Sam Condor, who was deputizing for Prime Minister Dr. Denzil Douglas, at a two-day meeting in Port of Spain, Trinidad, attended by delegates from 16 Caribbean countries.
Dr. Douglas has lead responsibility for HIV/AIDS matters, within the quasi Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Cabinet.
Condor told the meeting being attended by senior policy makers as well as civil society organizations, that there is evidence to suggest that a transition in HIV/AIDS epidemiology “is imminent,” adding there is some indication “that the number of newly infected persons will be fewer than the number of persons placed on treatment.
Mr. Condor said that it was therefore important for the region to understand that the way forward would be to “promote plans and programs of, for and by the people supported by various entities representing public health, development and the private sector inclusive of the donor community”.
In the global AIDS pandemic, the Caribbean is the second-most affected region in the world. Among adults aged 15–44, AIDS has become the leading cause of death and Condor said that while donor community responded to the crisis message, there is now a need for the region to reform its various HIV/AIDS campaign projects including the Pan Caribbean Partnership Against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP), “if we are to be taken seriously”.
He warned that with other situations occurring globally, “we run the risk of intensity of focus shifted and resources being diminished at a time when several fiscal constraints are affecting the public health sector’s capacity to cope”.
Condor says there was a need for an urgent adjustment in the Caribbean’s response “to what is one of the most devastating global epidemics of this century.”
“If we fail to have regional consensus on the pertinent issues going forward we risk marginalizing of our collective interest and needs,” Mr. Condor told the delegates.
The delegates are hoping to devise new regional strategies that will shape future HIV programming not only in the Caribbean, but globally.
The consultation will prepare the English, French, Spanish and Dutch-speaking Caribbean to adopt common policies ahead of the United Nations General Assembly High-Level Meeting on AIDS to be held in New York in June.