Caribbean Regional HIV Prevention Summit on Most-at-Risk Populations
The Caribbean region has the world’s second-highest HIV prevalence. While the overall estimated adult prevalence is modest—1.1 percent—this regional average encompasses considerable variations in national infection rates, ranging from nearly 0 to 3 percent (2.5 percent in Belize and 3 percent in the Bahamas) with much higher prevalence among most-at-risk populations (MARPs): men who have sex with men (MSM), sex workers (SWs), and drug users (DUs). AIDS continues to be the leading cause of death among Caribbean men and women aged 25 to 44 years.
The Caribbean region has achieved some success in improving access to care and treatment services for persons already living with HIV. However, significant gaps remain in the coverage and quality of HIV prevention, care, and support services. National averages for general population prevalence, however, mask startlingly higher prevalence among MSM, SWs, and DUs. The limited data available indicate the need for prevention interventions that target MARPs and people living with HIV (PLHIV). Stigma, discrimination, and criminalization of behavior (e.g., that of MSM, SWs, and DUs) have made it challenging to reach many at-risk individuals with effective interventions. However, expansion of the availability of effective and appropriate services for both MARPs and PLHIV to protect their health and reduce the risk of HIV transmission to sex partners and children is urgently needed.
To address this challenge, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Bahamas Ministry of Health (MOH) sponsored a workshop on HIV prevention in the Caribbean region. The three-day workshop, the Caribbean Regional HIV Prevention Summit, took place in the Bahamas from March 15 to 17, 2011. The Summit provided a forum for describing the HIV epidemic in the Caribbean, sharing evidence on effective preventive interventions for MARPs and other vulnerable populations (OVPs), encouraging partnerships, and identifying areas needing further attention.
For presentations and related resources from the Summit, visit the Pan Caribbean Partnership against HIV and AIDS.