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Caribbean can reach treatment targets to end AIDS if it accelerates progress

Submitted by unaidsadmin on Thu, 2017-07-20 11:12 - 0 Comments

Caribbean can reach treatment targets to end AIDS if it accelerates progress

Concerted efforts are needed to increase testing and viral suppression

UNAIDS has released a new report showing that the Caribbean could reach the testing and treatment targets that will put it on course to end its AIDS epidemic if it accelerates its response. According to Ending AIDS: progress towards the 90-90-90 targets, in order to speed up progress the region must improve strategies to ensure more people living with HIV are diagnosed and that there are higher levels of viral suppression among those on treatment.

“The region has achieved remarkable progress in expanding HIV services,” said UNAIDS Regional Support Team Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, Dr. César Núñez. “We need to continue work to ensure that we leave no one behind, .”

The report gives a detailed analysis of progress and challenges toward achieving the benchmarks set to help the world achieve the Sustainable Development Goal target of ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030. These targets are for 90% of all people living with HIV to know their status, 90% of diagnosed people to access sustained antiretroviral treatment and 90% of all people accessing treatment to achieve viral suppression by 2020.

 

Caribbean on track to reach treatment coverage target, lagging behind on testing and viral suppression

The Caribbean has achieved strong progress related to getting people living with HIV on treatment and reducing deaths due to AIDS, but gaps remain. In the region four of five (81%) people living with HIV who know their status are accessing treatment.  This means the region as a whole is doing a fairly good job at starting people on treatment following diagnosis.

HIV treatment coverage has contributed to a  52% decline in AIDS-related deaths in the Caribbean over the last decade. However, while half of all people living with HIV in the Caribbean are on treatment (52%), the other half (48%) are not.

Of concern is the fact that the region  is lagging behind on HIV testing and viral suppression. Progress must be accelerated for the Caribbean to achieve the 90-90-90 targets that will set it on course to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030.

One of three people (36%) living with HIV in the Caribbean are not aware of their HIV status . Community-centred strategies are urgently needed to reach those who have not yet been diagnosed. Late diagnosis is a challenge in several Caribbean countries, particularly for men. In Bahamas, Barbados and Jamaica, for example, one of three people was diagnosed late, when their immunity was already seriously compromised.  

The Caribbean must also improve efforts to keep people in care once they’ve started treatment and to ensure that treatment is successful. Only about half of people accessing antiretroviral therapy in the Caribbean had access to routine viral load testing. In 2016 one-third (33%) of those on treatment were not virally suppressed. (“Viral suppression” means that people living with HIV have been treated to lower the level of HIV in their blood to undetectable levels. This protects their health while preventing transmission of the virus).

In the Dominican Republic and Jamaica, viral suppression levels among those accessing treatment were below the regional average. However some countries are getting close to reaching the target. Three of four people on treatment are achieving viral suppression in Barbados, Dominica, Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago.

Community health workers and civil society are critical to securing early HIV diagnosis and successful treatment. The report called for greater community involvement in Caribbean health-care provision in order to reach the 90-90-90 targets.

 

Caribbean

  • In 2016, there were 310 000 [280 000–350 000] people living with HIV in the Caribbean.

 

  • In 2016, there were an estimated 18 000 [15 000–22 000] new HIV infections in the region.  

 

  • In the Caribbean, 9400 [7300-12 000] people died of AIDS-related illnesses in 2016.

 

  • Between 2010 and 2016, the number of AIDS-related deaths in the region fell by 28%.  

 

  • Treatment coverage in 2016 was 52% [41–60%] among people living with HIV in the Caribbean.  

 

  • There were less than 1000 [<1000–1000] new HIV infections among children in the Caribbean in 2016.

 

Ending AIDS: progress towards the 90–90–90 targets can be downloaded from unaids.org.

UNAIDS is the global leader and repository of AIDS-related programme data. The full data set can be accessed at http://aidsinfo.unaids.org/

 
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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.