Trinidad and Tobago remains committed to the fight against HIV/AIDSListen /
The Government of Trinidad and Tobago remains committed to the fight against HIV and AIDS and continues to lead a proactive campaign aimed at prevention as well as ensuring universal access to necessary information, treatment, care and support, particularly among key populations.
That's what the delegate of the twin-island republic Ms. Melissa Boissiere told the UN General Assembly during a meeting on Implementation of the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS and the Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS. She said the government has approved a new National Strategic Plan (NSP) 2013 -2018, which identifies five priority areas for addressing HIV and AIDS. These are prevention, combining behavioural, biomedical and structural interventions; Treatment, Care and Support; Advocacy and Human Rights; Strategic Information; and Policy and Programme management.
According to Ms. Boissiere, the programme also identifies sex workers, men who have sex with men, youth, and prisoners as the main key populations in Trinidad and Tobago affected by HIV.
“Trinidad and Tobago has made considerable progress in the fight against HIV and AIDS, including towards achieving the targets in the 2011 Political Declaration. Nonetheless, a number of challenging areas remain, in which further assistance and cooperation with partners are required. The Government of Trinidad and Tobago has afforded great priority to reducing the sexual transmission of HIV by 50% by 2015; achieving a 90% reduction in mother-to-child transmission; providing universal access to treatment; and eliminating stigma and discrimination. It is noteworthy that a 25% reduction in new diagnoses of HIV was observed between 2008 and 2011. We are also on track for achieving the targets of reducing mother-to-child transmission and providing universal access to treatment by 2015. As behavioural change is a key factor for decreasing new infections, initiatives have been undertaken to ensure access to comprehensive knowledge about HIV to assist young people in making informed decisions and choices about their sexual behaviour. The goal of reducing the sexual transmission of HIV will also require greater focus on prevention strategies for persons living with HIV, especially key populations. An assessment of the effectiveness of current strategies on high risk behaviour among the general and key populations also needs to be undertaken.”
According to Ms. Boissiere, currently, over 70% of patients who are eligible for treatment are receiving treatment and care. Moreover, she says, HIV care as well as anti-retrovirals are provided free of charge, and continued sustainability is guaranteed through public financing of the national antiretroviral treatment programme.
“While action has been taken to address violence against women and gender inequality, further action is necessary to address the inadequate focus on boys and men; the integration of sexual abuse into HIV programming; and the lack of strategic information required to inform decisions and policies, reviews of legislation, and programmes aimed at education and behavioural change. Trinidad and Tobago wishes to underscore, on this occasion, the importance of sustainable financing to facilitate a continued and effective HIV response, and that support should be provided in relation to the burden of the disease. In this connection, we welcome the promising Investment Framework recently introduced by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the opportunities it provides for, among other things, establishing priorities and identifying areas in which further technical assistance is required.”
Trinidad and Tobago's Second Secretary Ms. Melissa Boissiere says nationally, the issue of the integration of the HIV response into other programmatic areas has been given increased focus, particularly in the context of the post-2015 Development Agenda.
This is Donn Bobb reporting.