Caribbean leads in global war on AIDS

As it seeks US $15 billion to defeat the global AIDS epidemic, UNAIDS says the Caribbean has led the world in reducing the number of new infections.

“Certainly, in the region, there has been substantial progress in the past 10 years or so, not only in treatment availability but also in prevention of transmission from mother to child,” said Michel de Groulard, a senior program advisor at UNAIDS’s Caribbean office in Trinidad and Tobago. “Some countries have switched to university access of treatment and others are on the way to it.”

Ruth Ayarza, Latin America and Caribbean regional manager for the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, which supports member organizations in the Caribbean, said governments have responded with better access to treatment in the region.

“In many of the countries, we’re working in, there definitely has been an increase in support from regional agencies,” she said.

But Ayarza said more than 13,000 people became infected with HIV/AIDS in 2011, the most recent year for which data are available, bringing the total number of cases to 230,000 in the region.

The World Health Organization says that the Caribbean, which ranks second behind sub-Saharan Africa for HIV/AIDS infection rates, which remains the leading cause of death among men and women ages 20 to 59.

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