Dominica is among 13 Caribbean countries on track to be certified as having eliminated HIV transmission from mothers to children, according to UNAIDS Caribbean.
As a matter of fact Dominica is one of many Caribbean countries to not have an HIV-positive baby on record in the last four to ten years, but the documentation must finalised, the organization said.
“Over the last decade, countries have successfully increased access to antiretroviral medicines during pregnancy and empowered women to make informed decisions about their health and that of their children,” UNAIDS said in a release to mark World AIDS Day 2014. “National validation processes are underway throughout the region to confirm reported rates, making it likely that by 2015 a Caribbean country will be the first in the world to announce that it has ended HIV transmission to babies.”
“This region was the first to eliminate polio and measles,” UNAIDS Caribbean Regional Support Team Director, Dr. Ernest Massiah said. “These successes would not have been possible without political commitment. We need the same will to end mother to child HIV transmission. The question is which country will be first.”
According to UNAIDS before treatment was available, “at least one in four babies born to HIV positive women in many Caribbean countries was infected with HIV.”
“Today Anguilla, Barbados, Cuba, Guyana, Montserrat and St. Kitts and Nevis all have shown that they have reached the elimination target of below two percent transmission.” the organization said. “Bonaire, the Cayman Islands, Curacao, Dominica, Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Kitts & Nevis and St. Maarten have not had an HIV positive baby on record in the last four to ten years, but must finalise their documentation.”
UNAIDS said the Bahamas, Jamaica and Suriname currently have transmission rates between two and five percent. Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Haiti and Trinidad and Tobago lag behind with more than five percent of children born to mothers living with HIV becoming infected. The Dominican Republic, Grenada and St. Lucia have insufficient information.
“No child living in the Caribbean should be born with HIV,” Massiah stated. “We must look carefully at how we can protect and empower women so that they go to clinic early, get tested, get treated and follow-up with their babies.”
UNAIDS said there must be a focus on young women and men who have sex with men to close the gap and end the AIDS epidemic by 2030.
“Ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 is possible, but only by closing the gap between people who have access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services and those who are being left behind,” the organization stated in its release. “In the Caribbean more must be done to prevent HIV among young women, sex workers and men who have sex with men. Those already living with HIV must also be able to access the services they need.”
World AIDS Day is observed today, December 1.