Caribbean continues to employ all resources in the fight against HIV/AIDS: The Bahamas

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Eugene Glenwood Newry

The Governments of the Caribbean continue to employ all resources necessary to achieve sustainable action in the fight against HIV and AIDS, the representative of The Bahamas Ambassador Eugene Glenwood Newry told the General Assembly during a meeting to discuss the Secretary-General's report on expediting United Nations efforts to bring the global AIDS epidemic fully under control, and deciding to include that question as an item on the agenda of its sixty-eighth session. He said that as host of the Caribbean HIV Conference in November 2011, The Bahamas stands in solidarity with her sister CARICOM countries to provide high quality and sustainable prevention, treatment and support services to all persons living with HIV and AIDS. And he added, We are at a critical juncture.

” Since 2002, the number of newly reported HIV infections in The Bahamas has continued to decline. The 2012 UNAIDS World AIDS Day Report Results noted that the Caribbean region saw the sharpest decline in the number of new infections, with The Bahamas and a few of her sister CARICOM countries observing a decline of more than 50 per cent. In 2011, 301 new cases were reported. This decline has been achieved by targeted prevention messaging, particularly to the youth through community outreach events which offers free HIV testing. The challenge remains in reaching those who, for reasons of stigma and discrimination, do not come forward. The National AIDS Programme is focussing its efforts and scarce resources where they are most needed. Eliminate new HIV infections in children and substantially reduce AIDS-related maternal deaths Pre-natal anti-retroviral therapy in The Bahamas, recognized internationally as a Best Practice, has resulted in almost total elimination of mother-to-child-transmission of HIV. There was no perinatal transmission in 2010 and only 2 cases in 2011, both from mothers who did not follow antiretroviral prenatal treatment. Free replacement feeds further reduce the risk of transmission to infants. However, the challenge remains among women who do not seek antenatal care or who refuse to take antiretroviral therapy during pregnancy.”

Ambassador Newry also drew attention to the global AIDS resource gap.

“While we laud the significant achievements witnessed globally in the last 24 months by the increase in access to antiretroviral treatment, the decline in the numbers of new HIV infections, particularly among newborns, and the decline in AIDS-related deaths, we must be ever mindful of the ongoing financial resource challenges being faced by low-income and middle-income countries which, from a socio-economic development perspective, adversely affect efforts to effectively respond to the disease. The persistent decline in international development assistance and, in the case of The Bahamas and CARICOM countries, unfair restriction of access to financial assistance based on per capita Gross National Income (GNI), despite overwhelming vulnerabilities, continues to have negative implications for our efforts to scale-up prevention and treatment programmes and to sustain an effective response. Notwithstanding the fact that due to decreased assistance, the need for our Governments to divert limited resources to tackle other pressing health challenges, such as non-communicable diseases (NCDs), continues to pose a significant threat to our region's socio-economic development.

Ambassador Newry noted that the primary financial source for the National AIDS Programme in The Bahamas was the Government.

This is Donn Bobb reporting.

Duration: 4’25″

Filed under Caribbean News.
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