Mission will emphasize the import role of faith based communities in advocating for HIV prevention, testing and treatment.
PANAMA CITY, January 23, 2019—UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé will be on official mission to Panama from January 24 th to 27 th , for the 2019 World Youth Day celebrations. World Youth Day 2019, an international Catholic event focused on religious faith and youth, is being hosted in Panama City. For UNAIDS this is an opportunity to highlight the important advocacy role the Church has played in increasing access to treatment and care of people living with HIV, specifically promoting prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV and paediatric treatment.
Seven Caribbean countries have been validated by the World Health Organization as having eliminated mother-to-child HIV and syphilis transmission (Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Cuba, Montserrat, and Saint Kitts and Nevis). Other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean can achieve the elimination of new HIV infections among children by increasing HIV diagnosis, treatment and care during and after pregnancy.
An estimated 73% of pregnant women living with HIV in Latin America and the Caribbean received antiretroviral treatment to prevent mother-to-child transmission in 2017. There are huge variations in treatment coverage by country, ranging from between 21% to more than 95%. In addition, in 2017 less than half (47%) of all babies exposed to HIV in Latin America and the Caribbean benefitted from early testing methods specifically tailored for infants. The Vatican has played a leading role in advocating globally for accelerated access to HIV testing and treatment for children.
While in Panama from January 24 th to 27 th , Mr Sidibé will also engage stakeholders around the unfinished agenda of ending AIDS. He will meet with the diplomatic corps, civil society and members of the United Nations system. The mission is meant to bring into focus strategies to increase coordination between the state and civil society in order to Fast Track the AIDS response.
At the end of 2017 there were an estimated 25,000 people living with HIV in Panama. According to UNAIDS Estimates, there were 1,600 new HIV infections and under 1,000 AIDS-related deaths. More than half (53%) of all people living with HIV in Panama are receiving life-saving treatment. On Sunday 27th January Mr. Sidibé will pay a visit to the Buen Samaritano, a hospice that provides recovery and social reintegration support for people living with, and affected by, HIV.
“Panama has good experience with collaborative work between civil society, the faith community and Government,” said UNAIDS Latin America and Caribbean Regional Support Team Director, Dr César Núñez. “In order to accelerate progress on HIV prevention, treatment and care there’s a need for innovative state mechanisms to promote social contracting of NGOs, particularly those that reach the most vulnerable and marginalized people.”
Mr Sidibé heads the UN programme that leads the global effort to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals. He is a long-standing champion of a people-centered approach to health and development and a strong advocate for social justice. Mr Sidibé became the second Executive Director of UNAIDS in 2009. He is a citizen of Mali.
The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) leads and inspires the world to achieve its shared vision of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS- related deaths. UNAIDS unites the efforts of 11 UN organizations—UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, UNDP, UNFPA, UNODC, UN Women, ILO, UNESCO, WHO and the World Bank—and works closely with global and national partners towards ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals. Learn more at unaids.org and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.