HIV is everyone's business: Trinidad and Tobago

Rodger Samuel

The United Nations General Assembly has promised to partner with all stakeholders to implement "bold and decisive action" to wipe out what remained of an unprecedented global human tragedy despite significant progress in the past decade to combat the disease.

Wrapping up a three-day High-Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS, which heard presentations from representatives of more than 160 Governments, intergovernmental and civil society organizations, and the private sector, the Assembly expressed deep concern that many countries had been unable to achieve the goals set forth in its 2001 and 2006 declarations on the subject. It stressed the urgent need to recommit to them, as well as to commit to and fully implement "new, ambitious and achievable targets".

Trinidad and Tobago's Minister of State Rodger Samuel worried that the Assembly's action could become a fruitless endeavour, saying that the adoption of resolutions, treaties and agreements on any subject was useless if there was no commitment to implementing them. He said HIV was "everyone's business", and it was time to "get down to it".

TAPE: Within the confines of our limited resources, the Government of Trinidad and Tobago continues to do its part to discharge its commitments under the Declaration adopted by this Assembly, as well as those hemispheric initiatives geared towards bringing relief to our citizens who are affected by HIV/AIDS. We also continue to promote awareness of the importance of preventive measures aimed at curbing the spread of the disease. For us, this matter is of high priority, and consequently, this responsibility has been placed under the Office of the Prime Minister, which oversees Trinidad and Tobago's response to this epidemic. Trinidad and Tobago is leading an active campaign in the fight against HIV and AIDS at all levels. Our efforts are aimed at ensuring that there is universal access to treatment, care and support, as well as to insulate future generations from HIV and AIDS.

NAR: Minister of State Rodger Samuel enumerated some of the initiatives developed by Trinidad and Tobago in the fight against HIV/AIDS, noting that in 2003, the government formulated a strategic framework in the context of a national response to the pandemic.

TAPE: A National HIV and AIDS Strategic Plan 2004-2008 was also developed to direct the national response and set the framework for the coordination of activities to reduce the incidence of HIV and mitigate the negative effects of the epidemic. The National Strategic Plan has five priority areas, namely: prevention; treatment, care and support for people living with HIV; advocacy and human rights; surveillance and research; and programme management, coordination and evaluation. In Trinidad and Tobago, we have achieved some successes in our battle against this disease. There is universal access to HIV testing. For example, in the area of prevention, 97% of pregnant women have been raised for HIV. Additionally, the provision of free anti-retroviral medication has reduced the number of HIV-exposed infants testing positive to 7% from 11% in 2002. In Tobago, in particular, I am pleased to indicate that in 2009, there were no recorded cases of infants born HIV positive. Trinidad and Tobago has also adopted the elimination initiative which seeks to eliminate the transmission of HIV from mother-to-child by 2015.

NAR: Minster of State Rodger Samuel said the government of Trinidad and Tobago provides free antiretroviral drugs to all persons living with HIV and AIDS. He said at the end of 2010, nearly 7,000 persons living with HIV were accessing treatment and care services across the country.

This is Donn Bobb reporting.

Duration; 4’16″

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