Global perspective Human stories

UNAIDS names Caribbean group fighting AIDS an 'international best practice'

UNAIDS names Caribbean group fighting AIDS an 'international best practice'

The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) today designated the multilateral organization the Caribbean countries formed to help them fight against the pandemic “an international best practice” in a region estimated to be the world's second-worst affected by HIV/AIDS after sub-Saharan Africa.

At a ceremony in Montego Bay, Jamaica, the three-year-old PanCaribbean Partnership against HIV/AIDS (PANCAP), chaired by Prime Minister Denzil Douglas of St. Kitts and Nevis, was praised for successfully mobilizing political backing and funds, raising the region's international profile and coordinating the work of the 70 institutions in its membership.

“Because of PANCAP's work, we are one step closer to mitigating the social and economic impact of AIDS in the region,” UNAIDS Executive Director Dr. Peter Piot said.

“PANCAP is a model of a successful regional approach which can be a stimulus and a source of lessons learned for other regions,” he added.

In the Bahamas and Barbados the prevalence rates have edged down.

At the ceremony, chaired by the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy to the Caribbean on HIV/AIDS, Sir George Alleyne, UNAIDS and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) also launched a joint study of PANCAPS called “Common Goals, Shared Response.” Prime Ministers Owen Arthur of Barbados and Ralph Gonsalves of St. Vincent and the Grenadines addressed the crowd.

Of the 49 million people living with AIDS worldwide, 440,000 are in the Caribbean and of those an estimated 280,000 are in Haiti. The Caribbean countries that are most dependent on tourism have been the most affected, according to the UNAIDS updated report on the region for December 2004.

The report says, “Social, not just technical, challenges will need to be confronted if the countries of this region are to bring their epidemics under control.

“Widespread homophobia is providing an ideal climate for the spread of HIV by driving men who have sex with men further away from the information, services, and security they need if they are to protect themselves against HIV. Meanwhile, the unequal social and economic status of women and men is acting as a powerful dynamic in epidemics that are growing amid ongoing stigma, misconceptions and denial.”