The forum will focus on strengthening the regional HIV and AIDS response. The meeting is funded by the Global Fund and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).
In his keynote address at the opening ceremony of the meeting, Hon. Terrence Deyalsingh, Minister of Health, Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, called for a ‘recalibration of the messages being used to educate the public on HIV and AIDS. ‘Despite the millions of dollars invested in HIV and AIDS prevention, people are failing to change their risky behavior’, stated Minister Deyalsingh, ‘we have to get our men in particular to take responsibility if we are going to end HIV by 2020’.
The Minister further emphasized that since donor funding for the disease in the Caribbean is dwindling, programme implementers must be strategic and focus more efforts on behavior change. ‘We must reach our young people using the forms of media that occupy their time,’ stated the Minister, ‘if we are to truly end HIV by 2020, we must invest our efforts in creating real behavior change’.
In his address, Director of the PANCAP Coordinating Unit, Dereck Springer, stated that the meeting is occurring at an ideal time when the entire region is discussing the sustainability of the HIV and AIDS response in the Caribbean and it offers an opportunity to assess progress on current global strategies, and identify innovative ways to address gaps and strengthen the Caribbean regional HIV response.
‘I am pleased that the discussions will focus on identifying what gaps and challenges remain in the Region’s response to HIV and AIDS as prevention is high on the list of critical initiatives which must be resuscitated and sustained,’ stated the Director, ‘most pivotal to the discussion will be the next steps and recommendations for bridging these gaps. These next steps are of particular importance when one considers the regional challenge of reduced funding for HIV and AIDS programmes as well as the region-wide discussion on the need for Government supported programmes to fill the gaps which remain’.
The discussions with NAP managers and key partners will be conducted within the context of the Caribbean’s advancement in achieving the 90-90-90 targets with the overarching aim being an agreement on recommendations, which NAP managers and pivotal stakeholders can advocate at the level of policy implementation.
An update from development and regional partners, including The Global Fund, PEPFAR, UNAIDS, CARPHA, the University of the West Indies, Caribbean Med Lab Foundation and ‘Live Up’ on current and planned initiatives for the Caribbean region, including progress and support provided by development partners for countries and regional partners, is another feature of the agenda. There will also be an update on the PANCAP Local Capacity Initiative Project and the PANCAP-Johns Hopkins University Knowledge for Health Project.