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Building a bridge from Durban to Kingston

Submitted by unaidsadmin on Mon, 2016-07-25 20:33 - 0 Comments

Following the 21st International AIDS Society Conference last week, a team from Jamaica has remained a bit longer in Durban, South Africa to learn how communities can bolster HIV prevention, treatment and care efforts.

Kingston, the capital of Jamaica, is almost 8000 miles away from South Africa’s second most populous city, Durban.

Though the dimensions of their HIV epidemics are different, stakeholders in both countries share an understanding of the key role cities play in ending the AIDS epidemic.

From July 25th to 26th a contingent representing Jamaica is visiting Operation Sukuma Sakhe (OSS) in Kwa-zulu Natal, South Africa. OSS is a 'best practices model' for community participation in the AIDS response. The approach reaches beyond the confines of HIV as it aims to improve people’s quality of life by reducing the impact of poverty. The Jamaica team is comprised of Dr. Denise Chevannes, Executive Director of the National Planning Family Board (NFPB), Devon Gabourel, NFPB Human Rights & Enabling Environment Manager and  Dr. Cesar Nuñez, UNAIDS Director of the Latin America and Caribbean Regional Support Team.

“We view this as an opportunity to promote south-south cooperation and to find solutions for common problems,” said Dr. Nuñez.  

Three of every five reported AIDS cases in Jamaica are from its trio of urban parishes. The challenge is particularly acute for the capital, Kingston. This city is home to quarter of the entire population but 43% of those living with HIV.

In Durban two of every five pregnant women are living with HIV. One-third of the city’s inhabitants live in informal settlements where HIV rates are significantly higher.

The South African city is working to ensure that HIV treatment and services are accessible in the areas with the highest HIV burden. The city is committed to eliminating new HIV infections among children and reaching key populations including sex workers, taxi drivers, truckers and men who have sex with men with HIV prevention and treatment services. They are also focused on young people in schools and universities. HIV prevention initiatives such as First Things First and Graduate Alive, offer voluntary medical male circumcision, condom distribution, family planning and HIV treatment.

The two-day mission includes a visit to the Prince Cyril Zulu Communicable Disease Clinic which provides combined TB and antiretroviral treatment, to TB/HIV Care which ensures access to HIV and harm reduction services to sex workers and people who inject drugs and to the Durban Pinetown Clinic which provides comprehensive and primary health care services.

The contingent will also visit the community ‘war room’ of Operation Sukuma Sakhe--a highly effective, multi-sectoral community service delivery model that addresses connected development challenges. Sukuma Sakhe means ‘stand up and build’. This programme tackles a range of problems including food security, disease and infection, poverty, violence against women and girls, teenage pregnancy, substance abuse, crime and motor vehicle accidents.

Finally they will meet with the vibrant members of the District Council on AIDS to learn how civil society organisations can both advocate for services and increase uptake among target populations.

Durban and Kingston are among the signatories of the Paris Declaration. This is a commitment to put cities on the Fast-Track to ending the AIDS epidemic through a set of commitments including  ensuring 90% of people living with HIV know their HIV status, 90% of people who know their HIV-positive status are on antiretroviral treatment and 90% of people on treatment achieve suppressed viral loads. As of January 2016, more than 100 cities around the world have signed the Paris Declaration and are now working to address disparities in access to basic services, social justice and economic opportunity for city dwellers.

Caption: Dr. Cesar Nuñez, UNAIDS Director of the Latin America and Caribbean Regional Support Team (left) and Councillor James Nxumalo, Executive Mayor of Durban. 

 

 

 

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The UNAIDS team offers the Caribbean the broad expertise of cosponsors and other UN organisations in areas such as program development and management, women and child health, education, legal networking, community care initiatives and resource mobilisation. The goal is an expanded response to HIV in the region with the world’s second highest HIV prevalence.