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Dr. Edward Greene, UN Secretary-General Special Envoy for HIV In The Caribbean World Aids Day Message On The Occasion Of 2015 World Aids Day


(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana)     Another year. Another World AIDS Day. So much to celebrate yet so much more to achieve. Young people still dying. Rates of infection too high among vulnerable groups. Stigma and discrimination still raging, fanning the flames of the disease. Volumes of information available yet intolerance and ignorance prevail. Myths, prejudice and fears repel rational policies and programmes. Financing gaps remain an obstacle. So why do I share the optimism implicit in this year's theme that ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 is possible?

My reference point is the Caribbean where Cuba has just achieved the landmark of being the first region in the World to be certified by WHO as having eliminated mother to child transmission and congenital syphilis; where seven other countries are ready to be certified and four others are in close range;   and where the political leadership has endorsed the aspirational goal of the Caribbean being the first region in the world to emulate Cuba's achievement

The Caribbean has also ushered in a movement under the indigenous banner of Justice for All, coordinated by CARICOM/PANCAP and UNAIDS. This movement has taken root throughout the region in the form of respectful dialogue to achieve short, medium and long term targets. Through engagement among parliamentarians, faith leaders, civil society, private sector, youth and the media, it has fostered a growing consensus. Each stakeholder group identifying what they can contribute to ending AIDS in the Caribbean by 2030. Among the guiding principles of Justice for All are the ambitious UNAIDS targets based on scientific studies that if by 202O, 90 percent of people with HIV are tested, 90 percent of those tested are on treatment and 90 percent of those on treatment have zero transmission rates, then AIDS can be ended by 2030

These ambitious targets are given meaning by the discussions around Justice for all that embrace strategies for prevention, access to affordable medicines, reducing dependence on external sources of funding, implementing laws against AIDS-related discrimination in the workplace, hospitals, schools and communities. They also focus on policies and programmes designed to increase the scope of the human rights agenda to eliminate stigma and discrimination against vulnerable groups such as men who have sex with men, sex workers, drug addicts and the abuse of women, girls, adolescent and children.

There is no silver bullet to ensure that these principles will be achieved in practice. That Caribbean stakeholders are willing to explore individually and collectively how to proceed and what's to be done, is a good omen.

Let us therefore resolve on this World AIDS Day to work together without delay to accomplish those elements of JFA that are within our grasp. Let us at the same time frame our country and regional responses so that the in the medium and longer term we can wrestle with those obstructions and break down the barriers that stand in the way of ending the AIDS epidemic. Let us resolve to make the Caribbean the First to Zero.

Edward Greene
UN Secretary General Special Envoy for HIV in the Caribbean


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CMLF News Issue #7
27th January 2016