World AIDS Day 2020 – Message from the Minister of Health, Hon Dwayne Seymour, JP
On December 1, people all over the world join forces to show support for people living with HIV and for those who have lost their battle with AIDS. The Ministry of Health and the Public Health Department would like to publicly stand with them.
World Aids Day is an opportunity for the community to come together to take stock of how far we have come in our fight against HIV. Today, and every day, we remind ourselves of the need to keep focusing on efforts that will strengthen prevention measures, continued support for those living with HIV, and end the stigma that can often harm our fellow brothers and sisters.
2020 has been a year of all things health; highlighting, in often painful ways, just how much our health is key to our livelihoods and economies, to equality and human rights, to social protection and personal responsibility. It is against this background that this year’s theme for World AIDS Day is “Global solidarity, shared responsibility”.
HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is one of the world’s most serious public health challenges; however, there is a global commitment to stopping new HIV infections and ensuring access to HIV treatment. I am pleased to advise that this Government and the Health Ministry, remains fully committed to providing access to testing and treatment. Testing is the essential first step to accessing treatment and one way of promoting our solidarity and shared commitment to preventing new HIV infections. Whilst the Government continues to play its part, each individual should be mindful of their own personal responsibility and accountability – in this way, we can address the issue of shared responsibility together.
Globally, as at the end of 2019, 38 million people were living with HIV/AIDS. Of this number, 36.2 million were adults and 1.8 million were children under fifteen years of age. This general overview includes the status of HIV/AIDS in the Cayman Islands; with an estimate of more than 70 people living with HIV on our islands.
Despite the availability of a wide array of effective HIV prevention methods, accompanied with massive scale-up of HIV treatment in recent years, UNAIDS cautions there has been unequal progress in reducing new HIV infections, increasing access to treatment, and ending AIDS-related deaths, with too many vulnerable people and populations left behind. Stigma and discrimination, together with other social inequalities and exclusion, are proving to be key barriers. Further, the COVID-19 pandemic has seriously impacted the AIDS response and could disrupt it more.
Notwithstanding the challenges of 2020 we have come a long way with medical science and know that many of these people can go on to live happy, healthy and normal lives.
The Ministry of Health continues its pledge to work to reduce stigma, to support education and sexual health campaigns that are vital to ensure everyone enjoys positive health outcomes. Through global solidarity and shared responsibility, we will ensure that no individual is left behind in accessing treatment and care.
We would be remiss not to thank those who work diligently behind the scenes every day to solve this global health problem. I want to take this opportunity to thank all of our partners: the Public Health Department, the Cayman Islands Red Cross, the Cayman Aids Foundation and other local partners, advocacy and community groups who are working with us to create an AIDS-free world.
More from our Partners:
According to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), “the Caribbean region has made significant progress in reducing AIDS related deaths. The number of people dying of AIDS-related deaths have decreased from 11 thousand in 2010 to 6,900 in 2019. During that same period, the Region has also seen a reduction of new HIV cases down from an estimated 18,000 new cases to 13,000 per year. In 2017, six CARPHA Member States were certified by the World Health Organization for having eliminated mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis. Despite the progress made, the management of HIV/AIDS remains a priority public health issue. Member States have pledged to step up efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. SDG 3 aims to ensure health and well-being for all, including the commitment to end the AIDS epidemic.” Read more here:
Cayman Islands Red Cross
“While many people are aware that the Caribbean has the second highest rate of HIV prevalence in the world after Sub-Saharan Africa, few know that child sexual abuse is one of the social and cultural factors driving the epidemic in the region. As such, we must recognise that sex education is both HIV prevention work and child protection work. The Cayman Islands Red Cross remains committed to doing its part in advocating for and delivering comprehensive training, education and awareness programmes that are evidence based, best-practices inspired, and inclusive of all members of our community.” To learn more or to volunteer visit: www.redcross.org.ky
The Cayman AIDS Foundation
“The Cayman AIDS Foundation pledges to continue the fight to ensure all persons have equal access to our prevention programs.
The foundation will continue to support People Living With HIV/AIDS (PLWHA), and to fight against stigma, and discrimination towards all.” For more information and fundraising events visit: www.caf.ky