Saint Vincent and the Grenadines experiences notable progress in decrease of HIV infections

Douglas Slater

 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and the CARICOM region in general, have experienced notable progress – such as a more than 25% decrease in the incidence of HIV infections – while providing treatment and care for a significant percentage of persons infected and or affected by HIV; thus resulting in notable improvement of quality of their lives. Foreign Minister Douglas Slater told the High-level meeting on HIV and AIDS that it is important to note that all of this progress and positive achievements are occurring in the context of a hostile global economic and financial environment, which places severe stress on the already scarce resources.

Douglas Slater:         Among the major challenges in the HIV/AIDS response is achieving an appropriate behavioral change necessary to ensure or improve our efforts to reduce the transmission of HIV. Also, despite some progress, the issue of stigma and discrimination of people living with AIDS (PLWA) and other vulnerable groups remain an important challenge. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and indeed the region must commit ourselves to continue to address these issues taking into consideration the many varied stakeholders in our societies. Multifaceted education initiatives and shared responsibility are key in sparking positive behavioural changes – both among the wider society, which must squarely confront lingering issues of stigmatization, as well as within vulnerable groups, where individuals must continue to take even greater responsibility for actions that minimize the risk of exposure and transmission.

NAR: Minister Slater said the response of the country's care-givers, together with its very strong political commitment, have placed St. Vincent and the Grenadines well on the way to an HIV-free generation. He said progress was also being made towards achieving zero mother to child transmission (MTCT) by 2015. However, this element of the response must be re-enforced by stronger emphasis on general prevention of HIV transmission. And he called on the international community to pursue and collectively champion a veritable "PREVENTION REVOLUTION" involving especially the energy of the youth. The minister stressed that Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is committed to a continued investment of its limited resources towards achieving universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support.

Douglas Slater:         Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is heavily reliant on generic medications in leading our national assault against HIV/AIDS. The willingness of States to not only allow, but to champion the widest and most flexible distribution of all generic medications remains one of the standards by which the developing world will continue to judge the commitment to global eradication of HIV/AIDS. Legal and political straw men are of little comfort to the millions of people who still cannot access medication that remains too expensive, despite the progress we have made on pricing. Three decades into this struggle, no human being should be suffering and dying simply because the necessary medication was priced out of their government's reach.

NAR: Foreign Minister Slater said Saint Vincent and the Grenadines believes that the response must at all times take a holistic approach to the many health challenges that confront the international community. He said the community must at all times strive to promote sociological concepts such as Human Rights of citizens and also the dignity of our women and girls.

This is Donn Bobb reporting.

Duration: 3’48″

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