Senior U.S. Department of State official responsible for Central America and the Caribbean tours Ladymeade Reference Laboratory

Ms. Julissa Reynoso, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Central America and the Caribbean in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs at the U.S. Department of State visited the Ladymeade Reference Laboratory.

Ms. Reynoso toured Barbados’ premier medical testing facility very recently, and the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) has supported Ladymeade for HIV Diagnostics as well H1N1 capacity. Dr. Anton Best, Barbados’ Chief Medical Officer, conducted the tour.

L to R: Deputy Assistant Secretary Julissa Reynoso, Minister of Health Donville Inniss, Chargé d'affaires a.i. Brent Hardt and Dr. Anton Best

L to R: Deputy Assistant Secretary Julissa Reynoso, Minister of Health Donville Inniss, Chargé d'affaires a.i. Brent Hardt and Dr. Anton Best

The U.S. government will be investing over $3million to support the construction of a laboratory facility which the Ministry of Health will be using to provide support for six OECS countries in the areas of early infant diagnosis of HIV, monitoring of viral load and HIV resistance testing. This assistance is a part of our broader assistance to the region under the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

PEPFAR is a world wide program launched in 2003 to combat and limit the spread of the HIV/AIDS disease. PEPFAR represents the largest commitment in history made by a nation to a single disease and since its inception has treated over 2 million HIV-infected persons, provided care for over 10 million and prevented 7 million new infections. Started in 2009, PEPFAR’s Caribbean Regional Program, is coordinated from the U.S. Embassy in Barbados, under the aegis of the Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator (OGAC) in Washington D.C.

The Caribbean region has the second highest rate of HIV/AIDS prevalence in the world, second only to Sub-Saharan Africa. The AIDS epidemic continues to be the leading cause of death among Caribbean adults age 25-44 years of age and has left nearly a quarter of a million Caribbean children orphaned. In 2007, some 14,000 Caribbean nationals died of AIDS, and an estimated 20,000 people were newly infected with HIV.

The focus of this Technical Assistance (TA) program model is to expand partner countries’ capacity to plan, oversee, finance, and manage their national response to HIV and AIDS and to deliver quality services with the participation of local civil society, groups of persons living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) and the private sector. Support to national public health programs and to nongovernment organizations in the region will focus on improving collaboration at the national level and with regional programs.

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