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Nine per cent increase in new HIV infections in the Caribbean

 United Nations Secretary General Special Envoy for HIV in the Caribbean, Dr. Edward Greene. United Nations Secretary General Special Envoy for HIV in the Caribbean, Dr. Edward Greene.
DURBAN, South Africa, Jul 23, CMC – The 21st International AIDS Conference has ended here with the Caribbean reporting a nione per cent increase in new HIV infections.

The United Nations Secretary General Special Envoy for HIV in the Caribbean, Dr. Edward Greene told the more than 18,000 scientists, practitioners and members of civil society a new report has shown that after years of steady decline, the Caribbean recorded a nine per cent rise between 2010 and 2015.

He said the 2016 Prevention Gap report issued by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) released ahead of the conference  not that only Eastern Europe and Central Asia with a rate of 57 per cent had a higher increase.

The Caribbean statistics compared with a two per cent increase in Latin America, three per cent in Asia and the Pacific four per cent in the Middle East, North Africa, Eastern and Southern Africa for the same period.

In Western and Central Europe, North America and Western and Central Africa there have been marginal declines in new infections.

Elaborating on the situation for the Caribbean, Dr Greene said that it was necessary for a thorough analysis of the causes and direction of the prevention gap.

He said based on his close monitoring of developments in the region, the possible causes for the increase include inadequate attention to testing and treatment, late testing of people with HIV; lack of care centres, and decrease in the rates of retention of infected people in care.

He said these were compounded by equity in access to care especially for the vulnerable populations including men who have sex with men, sex workers, transgender people, those who inject drugs and prisoners.

Meanwhile, UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director, Luiz Loures, has called for ending discrimination against patients, especially those from the most vulnerable populations.

“The Durban conference was marked by the phenomenal progress made over the last 15 years to (enhance people’s lives) and expand access to treatment,” Loures said.

The International AIDS Conference, which opened Monday, was “the largest on any global health or development issue, and which met this year on the theme of “Access, Equity, Rights, Now” said the UN, adding that it was first convened during the peak of the AIDS epidemic in 1985.

The UN said the global AIDS response has since evolved, with the number of people with access to life-saving HIV treatment reaching 15 million by 2015.

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