The HIV epidemic in the Caribbean meeting the challenges of achieving universal access to prevention, treatment and care

Ministry of Health, Jamaica, 2 King Street, Kingston, Jamaica.
The West Indian medical journal (Impact Factor: 0.33). 07/2008; 57(3):195-203.
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The HIV prevalence in the Caribbean is estimated at 1.0% (0.9% - 2%) with 230,000 persons living with HIV/AIDS. HIV rates vary among countries with the Bahamas, Guyana, Haiti and Trinidad and Tobago having HIV rates of 2% or above while Cuba's rate is less than 0.2%. However throughout the Caribbean, HIV rates are significantly higher among those groups most at risk such as commercial sex workers, men who have sex with men and crack/cocaine users. The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Heads of Governments declared AIDS to be a regional priority in 2001. The Pan Caribbean AIDS Partnership (PANCAP) was formed to lead the regional response to the HIV epidemic. National HIV Programmes have made definite progress in providing ARV treatment to persons with HIV/AIDS and reducing death rates due to AIDS, decreasing HIV mother-to-child transmission and providing a range ofHIVprevention programmes. However HIV stigma remains strong in the Caribbean and sexual and cultural practices put many youth, women and men at risk of HIV The Caribbean has set itself the goal of achieving universal access to HIV prevention, treatment and care. Several challenges need to be addressed. These include reducing HIV stigma, strengthening national responses, scaling-up better quality prevention programmes with greater involvement of vulnerable populations, more supportive HIV policies and wider access to ARV treatment with better adherence. In addition, there needs to be improved coordination among PANCAP partners at the regional level and within countries.

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    • "Information obtained from the respondents via the questionnaires was on knowledge of sexually transmitted diseases, HIV infection and AIDS, types of sexual partners and use of condoms. A multi-itemed instrument was developed based on reviewed literature (Olugbenga-Bello et al. 2007; Figueroa 2008). The five-point Likert scale instrument was divided into three main sections which addressed the knowledge, attitudes or beliefs and practices of the minibus taxi drivers regarding HIV infection and AIDS. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background: Antiretroviral treatment (ART) has substantially reduced morbidity and mortality for HIV patients. In South Africa, with the largest ART programme globally, attention is needed not only on the further expansion of ART coverage, but also on factors which undermine its effectiveness, such as alcohol use.Objective: Given the decentralised approach of nurse-initiated and -sustained ART in the South African primary health sector, it is important to document key aspects of alcohol use to be conveyed to HIV-positive individuals and those at risk for HIV.Method: This study comprised a narrative review of relevant literature.Results: Alcohol acts through both behavioural and physiological pathways to impact on the acquisition, further transmission and then progression of HIV disease. Besides links to risky sex, alcohol undermines the immune system, raising susceptibility to contracting and then countering HIV and other infections. There are important drug interactions between alcohol and ART, or therapies for opportunistic infections and other co-morbidities. Moreover, alcohol undermines adherence to the medication which is essential for effective ART.Conclusion: Primary healthcare clinic attendees need evidence-based information on the detrimental effects of alcohol consumption on HIV infection, which ensue throughout the clinical course of HIV. This spans the role of alcohol consumption as a risk factor for HIV infection, HIV replication in infected individuals, a person's response to HIV infection and HIV treatment. Primary healthcare workers, especially nurses and HIV counsellors, require training in order to screen for and provide appropriate interventions for HIV-positive patients, those on treatment and treatment-naïve patients, who will benefit from reduced alcohol consumption or the cessation thereof.
    Curationis 02/2015; 37(1):1-8.
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    • "However, MC is not included in the regions’ HIV prevention program due to factors such as disagreement among policy makers and health professionals about the benefits of MC, concerns about the effect of MC on sexual performance, and a general misunderstanding of the role of MC as an HIV prevention strategy [17]. It is particularly important to strengthen HIV prevention strategies with non-behavioral approaches in the Caribbean due to pervasive gender norms that stigmatize homosexuality, foster dominance over females, and encourage men to have multiple sexual partners [28,29]. Together, these increase men’s vulnerability to HIV infection. "
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    ABSTRACT: To determine the prevalence of male circumcision (MC) among men in the western region of Jamaica, and to identify factors associated with acceptability of MC for self, infants (<1 year) and older sons (1-17 years). A cross-sectional, interviewer-administered questionnaire survey of 549 men aged 19-54 years was conducted in the western region of Jamaica. The survey included questions about the acceptance of MC for self, infants, and sons before and after an information session about the benefits of MC in preventing HIV/STI transmission. Logistic regression models were used to identify factors that were associated with acceptability of MC. Adjusted odds ratios (AOR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were calculated from the models. Fourteen percent of the men reported that they were circumcised. In the multivariable model, which adjusted for age, education, religion and income, there were increased odds of accepting MC for infants/sons among uncircumcised men who accepted MC for self (AOR=8.1; 95% CI = 4.1-15.9), believed they would experience more pleasure during sex if circumcised (AOR=4.0; 95% CI = 2.0-8.2), and reported having no concerns regarding MC (AOR=3.0; 95% CI = 1.8-4.8). Similarly, uncircumcised men who reported no concerns about MC or who believed that they would experience more pleasure during sex if circumcised were more likely to accept MC for self. Providing men with information about MC increased acceptance of MC for self, infants (<17 years) and sons (1-17 years). Since targeted education on the benefits of male circumcision for prevention of HIV/STI can be effective in increasing acceptability of MC, health professionals should be trained, and willing to discuss MC with men in healthcare facilities and in the community.
    PLoS ONE 09/2013; 8(9):e75074. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0075074 · 3.23 Impact Factor
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    • "However, an estimated 2.6% of the diagnosed HIV population - patients who may be seeking private care and private labs elsewhere - is not contained in our database, offering a partial explanation to the problem of linking diagnosed cases to care. Our findings argue for a continued emphasis on destigmatizing HIV, to engage patients in care at an earlier stage of their disease, and to maintain and promote universal access with state funding for HIV treatment including the provision of ART [37]–[39]. Notwithstanding such challenges, the experience of Barbados should give hope to other Caribbean territories that VL suppression due to ART is an achievable goal. VL suppression at a population level may have played a role, in conjunction with other behavioral or structural interventions, in the decline of new cases from a peak in 2000 concurrent with introduction of ART into Barbadian healthcare [3]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Treatment as prevention is a paradigm in HIV medicine which describes the public health benefit of antiretroviral therapy (ART). It is based on research showing substantial reductions in the risk of HIV transmission in persons with optimally suppressed HIV-1 Viral Loads (VL). The present study describes ten year VL trends at the national HIV treatment unit and estimates VL suppression at a population level in Barbados, a Caribbean island with a population of 277,000, an estimated adult HIV prevalence of 1.2%, and served by a single treatment unit. The national HIV treatment centre of the Barbados Ministry of Health has a client VL database extending back to inception of the clinic in 2002 (n = 1,462 clients, n = 17,067 VL measurements). Optimal VL suppression was defined at a threshold value of ≤200 viral copies/mL. Analysis of VL trends showed a statistically significant improvement in VL suppression between 2002 to 2011, from 33.6% of clients achieving the 200 copies/mL threshold in 2002 to 70.3% in 2011 (P<0.001). Taking into account the proportion of clients alive and in care and on ART, the known diagnosed HIV population in Barbados, and estimates of unknown HIV infections, this translates into an estimated 26.2% VL suppression at a population level at the end of 2010. We have demonstrated a significant trend towards optimal VL suppression in clients utilizing the services of the national HIV treatment program in Barbados over a 10-year period. Estimates of VL suppression at a population level are similar to reports in developed countries that applied similar methodologies and this could suggest a public health benefit of ART in minimizing the risk of sexual transmission of HIV. Continued efforts are warranted to extend HIV testing to hidden populations in Barbados and linking infected persons to care earlier in their disease.
    PLoS ONE 03/2013; 8(3):e58590. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0058590 · 3.23 Impact Factor
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