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Belize-- The PANCAP Director, Mr Dereck Springer, and the UN Special Envoy for HIV in the Caribbean, Dr Edward Greene, completed a successful three-day mission to Belize to advance the PANCAP Justice for All Roadmap. This mission was a follow-up to the recommendations of the Special Meeting of the CARICOM Council of Human and Social Development (Ministers of Health) (COSOD) for a second round of engagement with stakeholders to establish how the Caribbean can end the AIDS epidemic by 2030. The Council agreed that the ambitious UNAIDS goal 90-90-90 must underscore Justice for All. 90-90-90 is based on scientific analysis that having 90 percent of those with HIV awareof their status, 90 percent of those who are HIV positive on antiretroviral treatment and 90 percent of those on treatment with viral loads low enough to be considered suppressed by 2020 could lead to the end of the epidemic by 2030.

The mission highlighted the five major elements of a proposed Justice for All Roadmap. They include:

  • Paying attention to family life and those in need;
  • Accelerating affordable treatment as an important ingredient  of 90-90-90;
  • Eliminating gender inequality including violence against women and girls;
  • Promoting sexual and reproductive health and rights, including education at all levels; and
  • Addressing legislative and other reforms to eliminate HIV- and AIDS-related stigma and discrimination.

Consultations led to some unanimous decisions for implementing the Justice for All agenda in short-, medium- and long-term scenarios. It was agreed that among those issues that can be achieved almost immediately, is making the Caribbean the first region in the world to eliminate mother-to-child-transmission. This is possible since Belize and other Caribbean Countries, especially those in the OECS, are ready to be certified to this end. Adopting the CARICOM Health and Family Life Education modules in schools and targeted at out-of-school youth; developing special programmes and facilities for the differently abled, especially those with HIV; and strengthening the laws related to domestic violence and other forms of abuse against women, girls and boys are also achievable goals. Specially highlighted in the discussion with parliamentarians is the need to guarantee the quality of life of people living with AID, increasing access to treatment as a human right and addressing the legal barriers to adolescents and youth for accessing sexual and reproductive health services.

Very productive sessions were held with members of the Belize Cabinet led by Hon. Wilfred Erlington, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Attorney General, representatives of the opposition Peoples United Party, led by Hon. Dolores Bladeramus Garcia, a high-level delegation of faith leaders of all denominations, youth leaders and representatives of civil society, including people living with HIV and AIDS and lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender persons.

A special meeting with the First Lady, Mrs Kim Simplistic Barrow, revealed her commitment to champion gender equality and to promote a regional conference during this year of Caribbean and Central American First Ladies on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights.

All stakeholders in Belize, including the opposition, agreed to engage with the government to develop a Cabinet paper supporting the phased implementation of Justice for All as a critical component of 90-90-90 target and ending the AIDS epidemic.

"PANCAP expresses its gratitude to the National AIDS Commission of Belize for the efficient organisation of this constructive engagement with stakeholders that have led to very encouraging results," Dereck Springer, Director PANCAP Coordinating Unit.

"The government of Belize will collaborate with other Partners, especially the private sector, civil society and faith-based organisations to achieve the end of AIDS," Hon. Wilfred Erlington, Minister of foreign affairs and Attorney General, Belize.

"This round of consultations has demonstrated the willingness of all stakeholders in Belize to work toward the short-, medium- and long-term goals embodied in the Justice for All movement ," Dr Edward Greene UN Secretary General Special Envoy for HIV in the Caribbean.

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CMLF News Issue #7
27th January 2016