AIDS Coalition Launched to Fight Epidemic in Pan-Caribbean Region
A new "region-wide" coalition against HIV/AIDS, consisting of 14 Caribbean nations and dependent territories, was announced yesterday at the CARICOM Intersessional Heads of Government meeting in Bridgetown, Barbados. The Pan-Caribbean Partnership, with the support of UNAIDS, will work toward "implementing larger-scale, sustained and effective, multisectoral national and regional responses to HIV/AIDS," which has reached a "watershed moment" in the region, according to UNAIDS Executive Director Dr. Peter Piot. "Without decisive action, the epidemic and its impact will cause untold harm for decades ahead," Piot said, adding, "the Pan-Caribbean Partnership against HIV/AIDS represents the chance to build a better future." Nine of the 12 countries with the highest HIV infection rates in the Americas are in the Caribbean and AIDS has become a "major cause of death" among 15- to 44-year-olds in the region, according to UNAIDS. "The Caribbean is the worst affected region outside of Africa and an expanded response involving governments, business, and the international community is essential if the spread of the epidemic is to be reversed," Eddie Green, CARICOM assistant director general, said. The plan seeks to reduce by 25% HIV prevalence among 15- to 24-year-olds by 2005, as well as to reduce vertical transmission by half by 2003 (UNAIDS release, 2/14). Piot expressed support for the $500 million plan Tuesday at a ceremony in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, and stated that UNAIDS would contribute an "unspecified amount" toward the effort (Associated Press, 2/14).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.