The director of the Pan-Caribbean Partnership against HIV and AIDS (Pancap), Dr Rosmond Adams is urging all partners and stakeholders in HIV treatment, care and support services to ensure their services continue during the covid19 pandemic period.
A release from Pancap stated if there is a disruption to care, facilities and treatment, the pandemic threatens to undo the gains made in the last ten years of the region’s HIV response.
Pancap provides a structured and unified approach to the Caribbean’s response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
National programmes and civil society organisations are urged to adopt measures to ensure the continuity of care and treatment and support for viral suppression among people living with HIV and to help those who are at risk of contracting HIV to remain negative.
Adams noted that appropriate precautions and mitigation strategies must be developed and implemented across all public health sectors to prevent “potentially devastating outcomes.”
He recommended using social media channels to disseminate HIV programme messages including those related to covid19, ensure uninterrupted supply of condoms, lubricants at community distribution points, ramp-up multi-month distribution of condoms, lubricants and antiretrovirals to allow for less frequent pick-ups where stock allows for three to six months.
Adams also called for stakeholders to keep a close watch on gender-based violence and violence against vulnerable populations as the pandemic can lead to increases in violence within relationships. This situation is likely to be exacerbated by forced physical distancing, shelter-in-place measures and by economic distress caused by job losses that will harm the most vulnerable first.
Adams called for civil society organisations to continue providing the support for people with HIV to access services during the pandemic.
Pancap has a multi-layered approach to covid19 awareness including a series of webinars aimed at building the capacity of national AIDS programme managers, civil society organisations, clinicians, doctors, youth leaders and other stakeholders.
Pancap also initiated a public education programme to provide critical information to partners and stakeholders on covid19 guidance. It includes an interactive dashboard with data on the Caribbean and covid19. It is available on the Pancap website with animated videos on covid19 prevention, digital posters on hand washing, advice on wearing masks and other essential information on covid19.