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National HIV Prevention Strategy discussed

Stakeholders in the fight against HIV/AIDS met today to discuss a National HIV Prevention Strategy for adults and youths.  A Jamaican delegation representing UNICEF is also a part of the discussions. UNICEF and the National AIDS Commission plan to use these strategies in the most populated areas of the country such as the Belize, Stann Creek and Cayo Districts. Chair of NAC, Laura Tucker-Longsworth stated that the main focus will be on youths and Adolescence since data shows that this group is more vulnerable to HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.

Laura Tucker-Longsworth – Chair, NAC

“The lack of focus on and the exclusion of the adolescents and youth from some of our major plans and activities has really major implications for the national response since they consistently show that this group is engaging in risky behavior which contributes to high pregnancy rate and makes them vulnerable for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.”

Longsworth says, that by 2020 they expect 90% of people living with HIV will know their status and would be able to receive the anti-retroviral therapy.

Laura Tucker-Longsworth – Chair, NAC

“Additionally the National Aids Commission, that the strategy will take into consideration the new narrative that should be articulated by 2020 and was considered when we developed the concept note for the national response and those are that by 2020, 90% of all people with HIV will know their HIV status, 90% of all people with diagnosed HIV infections will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy and 90% of all people receiving therapy will have viral suppression.

Ivan Yerovi, UNICEF Representative in Belize explained why the Jamaican Delegation was brought to Belize.

Ivan Yerovi, UNICEF Representative

“Let me just make a very brief explanation of why we have a Jamaican delegation with us. UNICEF Belize along with UNICEF Jamaica and Brazil country office we decided last year to visit and do a study tour to Brazil. Why Brazil? Simple. Brazil is an example for Latin America, the Caribbean and the entire world because of the polices that they have put in place, because of the access to information that everyone has in terms of HIV AIDS, sexually transmitted infections. So we decided to visit together and do a study tour in Brazil last year. Coming out of that visit a Belize delegation visited Jamaica, learned about how Jamaica was able to include some of the aspects that everyone saw in Brazil and we consider Jamaica as a country where we could learn really close to the Belize context and to the Belize reality. So after that visit we now have the Jamaican delegation with us.

The workshop took place at the Inspiration Center in Belize City.