Policymakers and Key Partners determined to scale up national HIV responses to reach prevention targets with greater efficiency

Successful end to NAP Managers Meeting

Successful end to NAP Managers Meeting

Policymakers and Key Partners determined to scale up national HIV responses to reach prevention targets with greater efficiency

The Pan Caribbean Partnership against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP), the mechanism that provides a structured and unified approach to the Caribbean’s response to the HIV epidemic, concluded the Eight Meeting of National AIDS Programme (NAP) Managers and Key Partners in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago on Wednesday, March 20, 2024.

After two days of intense deliberations, participants explored various strategies to be utilised in scaling up their work on HIV and other STIs in their respective countries. Stronger coordination and better collaboration within and among governments, key stakeholders and partners, inclusive of civil society organizations must stimulate greater emphasis on relevant and accurate data collection as it relates to HIV and other diseases.  

Discussions also revolved around scaling up HIV self-testing throughout the region, so that countries can reach their prevention targets with greater efficiency. HIV self-testing (HIVST) has shifted the paradigm for HIV testing, the first step in the care continuum. Through concerted regional efforts, the scale-up of HIVST will result in substantial progress in HIV testing, prevention, and care, and can result in countries conquering the first 95 in the prevention targets, in which people living with HIV (PLHIV) know their status.

The meeting further spotlighted the urgent need for the examination of the various national and regional policies and programme responses as it relates to HIV treatment and care, to reflect a person-centred differentiated model of care. Utilising the person-centred approach that simplifies and adapts HIV services across the cascade in ways that both serve the needs of people living with or vulnerable to HIV, can reduce unnecessary burdens on the health system within the region. Greater emphasis on person-centred care where the individual matters and not their designation must be paramount. There were discussions on the strengthening of efforts to shift diagnostics away from healthcare facilities. It was also proffered that sustainable systems for community-based delivery and expanding access to person-centred treatment and prevention services must be developed more broadly.

Policymakers and Key Partners determined to scale up national HIV responses to reach prevention targets with greater efficiency
Policymakers and Key Partners determined to scale up national HIV responses to reach prevention targets with greater efficiency

There were also discussions on the need for major emphasis to be placed on how children are treated within the general HIV response. Moreover, there must be more strategic efforts at anchoring the treatment of children into the various Maternal and Child Health (MCH) programmes available.

Increased use of ICTs must form part of the overarching regional HIV response, enabling advocacy, mobilization, and empowerment of people living with HIV (PLWHA), women, and other vulnerable groups. The use of certain ICT platforms reduces costs and can potentially reach people on a more targeted level. The use of telemedicine was also discussed as a means of accessing hard-to-reach communities that may pose a challenge to other forms of ICTs.

The need for strong, cohesive community responses was also ventilated during the meeting. To provide much-needed support to national HIV responses, there must be a heightened role for communities to play. These communities must have a more defining role not only in HIV but also in health generally. 

Policymakers, programme managers, representatives of civil society organisations, the community of people living with HIV and those at highest risk for HIV attended the two-day meeting.

Knowledge Management Coordinator, Dr. Shanti Singh-Anthony thanked the planning committee and the staff of the PCU for their assistance in planning and organizing the meeting – the first since COVID.  Director of the PCU, Dr. Wendy Telgt Emanuelson thanked all the participants for attending and providing insightful input towards the many discussions held and underscored the commitment of the PCU to assist countries in implementing the key takeaways from the discussions, ensuring tangible progress in addressing HIV/AIDS in the region. She also thanked The Global Fund, the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS), and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID for their unstinting support in making this meeting a reality.

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