Caribbean Leaders Discuss Emergency AIDS Relief

Aug. 12, 2008 — A conference call Tuesday brought together several Caribbean leaders to discuss newly approved emergency funding from the U.S. government to combat the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the region.
Delegate Donna M. Christensen spoke with several ministers of health about the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). They included Minister Keith Mondesir of St. Lucia, newly-elected Minister Karl Hood of Grenada, Minister Roselyn Cassell-Sealy of Montserrat and Minister Pablo Marin of Belize.
"I was pleased to have this conference call with the health ministers because we were able to identify several immediate next steps that will be taken to ensure that the promise of PEPFAR is realized in the Caribbean, which today is the world's second-hardest hit region by HIV/AIDS," Christensen said Tuesday, according to a news release from her office. "This call was particularly important because not only did my colleagues and I fight hard to expand PEPFAR to the larger Caribbean community, but we also successfully accomplished increasing its funding by a total of $33 billion over five years."
The health ministers and the delegate discussed the positive impact that an influx of PEPFAR support would have on efforts to prevent the spread of HIV, bolster and expand health care infrastructures in the Caribbean, increase awareness and education about HIV/AIDS, and remove barriers to access to HIV/AIDS medications and other treatment and care, the release said.
"The successes we have accomplished with PEPFAR's expansion to the Caribbean were a team effort — the extraordinary work of dedicated health ministers who joined me and my colleagues around the common goal of HIV/AIDS elimination in the Caribbean," Christensen said. "I look forward to that continued spirit of teamwork as we work to ensure that over the course of the next five years, PEPFAR is expanded to this region of the world, that the burden of HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean is lessened and that the health, well being and life opportunities for millions of Caribbean men, women and children are improved."
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