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Photo: Seated: Prime Minister Harris and Carissa Etienne, PAHO Director, along with students from across the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis.

Basseterre, St. Kitts, December 01, 2017 (SKNIS): The Ministry of Health in St. Kitts and Nevis is strongly committed to scaling up treatment to ensure that people living with HIV/AIDS are able to stay healthy and alive, said Prime Minister and CARICOM lead Head with responsibility for Health and HIV/AIDS, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris.

Prime Minister Harris was at the time addressing a robust crowd at a Regional event held at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort, in commemoration of World AIDS Day 2017. He said that the local Ministries of Health are doing a number of public awareness campaigns to inform on the programmes and assistance available. In August of this year, the Ministry of Health in collaboration with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) hosted a mini symposium, which focused on the clinical management of HIV/AIDS in an effort to help improve the health outcomes of people living with HIV/AIDS in the federation.

“The ministry recognizes that we will not achieve the global targets by scaling up treatment alone. In this regard, more energy and effort have been placed on HIV prevention, particularly in workplace settings and among the key populations with increasing availability and uptake of condoms, testing and screening,” said Prime Minister Harris. “These interactions were accomplished through collaboration with external partners including, civil society organizations and NGO communities.”

Dr. Harris said that officials in the region have been playing their part to ensure the eradication of HIV/AIDS and that persons living with it are properly cared for.

“In our region, we have agreed to adopt a fast track strategy that involves increasing prevention, testing and treatment services, while working to eliminate the difficult stigma and discrimination,” he said. “Central to this goal are the 90-90-90 treatment targets that we are able to achieve by the year 2020. These are: 90 percent of people living with HIV knowing their status, 90 percent of those diagnosed are on treatment and 90 percent of the people on treatment have undetectable viral loads.”

The CARICOM lead Head with responsibility for Health and HIV/AIDS said that “on this day the Caribbean signals to the world that our region can be the first to end new HIV infections among children.” He made mention of the dual validation certificate that St. Kitts and Nevis is set to receive on Friday, December 01. This will make St. Kitts and Nevis one of the first English-speaking countries in the OECS, CARICOM and the Americas to receive this certificate.

“Six of our islands including St. Kitts and Nevis will join Cuba to be validated as having eliminated HIV and Syphilis transmission from mothers to babies. This is a remarkable achievement, which deserves commendation and applause, so congrats to all who have helped to make it happen,” said the prime minister.

The other islands to be acknowledged at the World AIDS Day Ceremony are Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Bermuda, Cayman Islands and Montserrat.

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