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TOGETHER WE MUST CLOSE THIS GAP – says   CARICOM Secretariat Assistant Secretary-General

(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana)     Dr. Douglas Slater, CARICOM Secretariat Assistant Secretary-General for  Human and Social Development, was speaking at a brief ceremony to hand over more than G$150,000 worth of food items to the Food Bank of  Guyana National HIV & AIDS Programme (NAP).

Initiated and organised by the PANCAP Coordinating Unit (PCU) in collaboration with the CARICOM Secretariat Staff Association, the ceremony, chaired by PANCAP Coordinating Unit Director, Mr. Dereck Springer, was  held to observe World AIDS Day 2014.

The Assistant Secretary-General told the gathering  which included CARICOM’s Secretary-General and Deputy Secretary-General,  “[t]here is a  global recognition  that even with the best treatment delivery options, without the complementary programmes for prevention and for the elimination  of HIV-related stigma and discrimination, ending AIDS will remaining a dream…. Together we must close the gap”.

“PANCAP is dedicated to ensuring human rights of all people throughout the region, and through its Justice for All Programme, aims to close the gap from inequality to equality and humanity for each and every person”, he added.

Dr. Douglas Slater drew attention to the strides that have been made by the Pan Caribbean Partnership against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP) to accelerate the pace for achieving the goal of  ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030. “PANCAP has provided the coordination under which many opportunities have been garnered and many gaps have already been closed”, he said.

Continuing, he highlighted several achievements including: a 40 % decline in new HIV infections  and a reduction in the prevalence of HIV to one percent; anti retrovirals treatment being available for 70% of the those eligible for it; major reduction in AIDS-related deaths; 90% of pregnant women living with HIV receiving treatment, resulting in a 52% decline in HIV infections among children.

The brief function, which included poetry reading by PCU staffer, Karen Cumberbatch and a skit by Merundoi was one of many observances organized to mark the day.

World AIDS Day commemorations are held around the world each year on the first of December to remember the lives lost to AIDS, recognise the people currently living with and affected by HIV and to recommit ourselves to the effort of ending AIDS.

PANCAP is a sixty-two member Partnership which was established by CARICOM Heads of Government in 2001 to respond to the HIV and AIDS epidemic  in the Caribbean.

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