December 10, 2023

United Nation study reveals increase in HIV infections among older populations in the Caribbean

As the Caribbean prepares to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of Regional Testing Day for HIV on Friday June 30th the need for testing has been underscored against the background of worrying statistics from the United Nations.

United Nations Special Envoy on HIV to the Caribbean Dr. Edward Greene says findings in the 2016 UNAIDS Gap report state that HIV infections are on the rise in the region.

He says that while the major increases have occurred in Cuba and Jamaica the greatest area of alarm is the fact that progress in stopping new infections has stalled among adults and HIV infections are increasing among older groups in some countries “One of my colleagues has flippantly referred to this as the ‘Viagra Effect”.

Dr. Greene who was speaking at the recent Regional Testing Day 10th Anniversary Caribbean Launch Breakfast and Awards in Bridgetown Barbados lamented the fact that after ten years of decline in the prevalence rate the Caribbean has witnessed a 9 percent overall increase in new HIV infections “This is shamefully second the Eastern Europe and Central Asia”

The United Nations Special Envoy on HIV to the Caribbean says that prevalence rates in the region vary from 1 point 8 percent of the population living with AIDS in Haiti and 1 point 6 in Jamaica to approximately 1 percent and lower in Barbados and the OECS countries. He points out that less than 50 percent of the people in the region living with AIDS are receiving treatment. Cuba has the highest coverage with 67 percent and Jamaica the lowest with 32 percent coverage. It is estimated that only 2 out of every 5 persons in the region know their status

Dr. Eddie Greene said the region is facing a conspiracy of complacency because, while there has been great success in reducing the number of HIV AIDS related infections and deaths as well as the increase in the numbers of persons receiving treatment infections are increasing. He said possible reasons for this complacency are reduced funding from donor agencies, a falloff in Governmental support and a lack of adherence to treatment which can all lead to serious reversals in the gains already made in the fight against HIV and AIDS.

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The genesis of LIVE UP was a Global Media AIDS Initiative established in 2004 by then UN Secretary General His Excellency Kofi Annan, UNAIDS, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Kaiser Family Foundation to leverage the power of the world’s media to share information on HIV, reduce stigma and discrimination and ultimately change behaviour. With initial 6-year funding support from the Elton John AIDS Foundation, Ford Foundation and Kaiser Family Foundation, the Caribbean partnership (CBMP) was launched in 2006 with 30 top broadcasters. The LIVE UP Campaign was launched at ICC Cricket World Cup in 2007.
After the first 6 years of HIV/AIDS public education campaigns and programmes, specific project funding from the Global Fund, PEPFAR, PSI/Caribbean, UNESCO, UNAIDS, UN Women, UNFPA and The Maria Holder Memorial Trust enabled LIVE UP in recent years to add even more to our creative and innovative Caribbean campaigns. For the past ten years, LIVE UP has been the only media-led campaign on HIV/AIDS to reach across the entire Caribbean.
It has expanded from 30 to 112 broadcasters (television and radio) from 24 countries that we trained to create accurate and sensitive programming on HIV, Key Populations, Gender Violence, Human Trafficking and Stigma and Discrimination. It is the region’s first coordinated media response that developed into a movement, training more than 2000 broadcasters, producing hundreds of Public Service Campaigns and other radio and TV magazine and feature programmes. The LIVE UP coordinated campaign has changed the Caribbean health promotion and media landscape and made a significant contribution to the HIV response in the region.
With this expansion, the LIVE UP partnership has now evolved into LIVE UP: The Caribbean Media Alliance (LIVE UP), Registered Charity #1282. The health and social justice issues being addressed by LIVE UP will continue to grow in keeping with the needs of our small developing nations of the Caribbean. LIVE UP will continue to be the unique media brand, addressing HIV and issues of human rights and social justice to reduce pervasive stigma and discrimination in our Caribbean region.
The objective is to embolden prevention efforts and reduce all stigma and discrimination throughout the Caribbean. We all can Love, Protect and Respect each other, people with disabilities, the elderly and our environment and create a better life for all in the region. LIVE UP remains committed to saving lives and making a difference while training media members to be catalysts for change. For more information, visit and the LIVE UP Facebook page.

IMAGE: UN Special Envoy on HIV to the Caribbean Dr. Eddie Greene speaking at the recent 10th Anniversary Media launch of Regional Testing Day in Bridgetown Barbados

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