Articles

12 Years collectively reversing the spread of HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean

Today, the Pan Caribbean Partnership against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP) celebrates its twelfth anniversary.  The journey of this regional mechanism, established by Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community to accelerate the response to the HIV and AIDS epidemic has been a mixed one.  There have been many opportunities and achievements and, not unexpectedly, many challenges. But the true spirit of partnership has prevailed. The Caribbean is not where it used to be. Many positive steps have been taken. The UNAIDS Report for 2012 reflects the outcome of these opportunities and achievements. It reports – the Caribbean has:
the sharpest decline (42%) globally in the numbers of new infections since 2001;
reduced deaths from AIDS related causes by 48% between 2005 and 2011;
reduced mother to child transmission by 32%. In this last context, there is optimism that the Caribbean will become the first region in the developing world to eliminate mother to child transmission by 2015.

PANCAP’s contribution to the Caribbean’s progress in reversing the HIV and AIDS epidemic is to be commended and the political will and commitment of all partners recognized. Notwithstanding, sustainable financing, among other challenges, remains a concern. On this twelfth anniversary, all members of the Partnership are called to accelerate the implementation of a system of shared responsibility, including private/public partnerships and the pooling of resources. It is time to move from intent to action.
Similarly, the call is being made for accelerated action to address human rights and gender issues which impede access to treatment, care and support and negatively impact prevention efforts. Model anti-discrimination legislation developed by the PANCAP Coordinating Unit in collaboration with the wider Partnership is yet to be adopted by many countries. Several countries still have outdated laws which discriminate against most-at-risk populations and stymies prevention efforts. Violence against women is increasing. There must be accelerated mechanisms for addressing this pervasive human right violation and for strengthening sexual and reproductive health frameworks. PANCAP is preparing for the third iteration of its Strategic Framework. No doubt, human rights would be one of its major priorities.
The Way Forward
2015 is an important  milestone for the Caribbean. Going forward, the new Strategic Framework  will  have to make ample provison for PANCAP’s relevance in the post 2015 agenda. In this regard, there are many lessons from the Region’s response to the HIV and AIDS epidemic and these should be used effectively and efficiently. PANCAP is an internationally recognized brand and  its potential must be acknowledged in the development of the  post 2015 global agenda. The journey continues.