Will Barbados be 1st country in the world to end HIV among children? Ministry of Health is moving quickly to certify the achievement
Barbados may be among the first countries in the world to have reached targets to eliminate mother to child transmission of both HIV and Syphilis by the end of this year. This was among the issues discussed when Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) Caribbean Regional Support Team, Dr. Ernest Massiah, met with the Barbados Minister of Health, Mr. John Boyce, and the Barbados National HIV/AIDS Commission in Bridgetown last week. Minister Boyce agreed to initiate a national validation process to review reported rates – an essential step before the achievement can be formalised.
“This would be an incredible success for both the country and the region. It would give international attention to the work of the Ministry of Health and show the global health community that results to end AIDS and improve health are being achieved in Barbados,” Dr. Massiah said.
The strength of the Preventing Mother-to-Child Transmission programme in Barbados has been attributed to the fact that more than 98% of mothers attending antenatal clinics are tested for HIV. The identification and follow-up of HIV cases and provision of treatment are also critical components.
“This will be a spectacular success and donors tend to support success stories. Achieving this goal would show what is possible in the Caribbean,” said Dr. Massiah. “The same political commitment that was required to ensure women had access to antenatal healthcare, early testing and treatment, is now required to ensure that no future child is born HIV positive”.
Before treatment was available, at least one in four babies born to HIV positive women in many Caribbean countries was infected with HIV. Along with Barbados, Cuba, Guyana and St. Kitts and Nevis may have reached the elimination target for HIV.