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Critical need exists for improved HIV labs – PANCAP

first_imgIn its message on World AIDS Day observed on December 1, 2018, the Pan Caribbean Partnership Against HIV and AIDS said there is a critical need for laboratory improvements.PANCAP Director Dereck SpringerThe organisation pointed out, “We must bring into the spotlight the critical need for laboratory improvements and increased coverage in our Region. We need more laboratory facilities, including those led by the communities themselves, to know our status. We need laboratories to confirm community-led HIV screening tests. We need laboratories and point-of-care diagnostic systems to monitor our viral loads and healthcare providers who are trained to provide clinical management for HIV-related illnesses”.It added that while testing for the disease is important, it is impossible to get persons tested without the necessary kits, diagnostic equipment and the right human resources.“When we talk about placing 90 per cent of people who are HIV positive on treatment and retaining them on treatment we must also ensure that we do not have stock-outs of key drugs. How can we be taken seriously when we encourage people to be tested and then fail to provide uninterrupted treatment? How can we fail to respond to people living with HIV when sometimes drugs are not available and people become anxious because their healthcare provider had stressed the importance of adherence to treatment and the impact of non-adherence on their health, including the potential for drug resistance?”The body further stated that it is fully aware of the fact that if it is serious about getting people to know their status, it must move beyond the rhetoric to decisive actions to demonstrate that it understands the full implication of what it means to move someone who tests HIV positive to sustained viral suppression.“We must guarantee good quality laboratory testing and laboratory services, uninterrupted treatment and monitoring within our healthcare system,” the Health agency noted.On another note, it was acknowledged that the justice system needs to be reformed to enable persons who suffer discrimination to obtain redress in a timely manner. This initiative, PANCAP said, would require the engagement and involvement of various Ministries as well as Attorney Generals among others.“I call upon our governments and all who can make this happen to take the necessary actions to create an enabling environment in which people who want to know their status can come forward with the knowledge that they will not be treated differently, and that if they test positive they will be provided with the treatment, care and support they need to enjoy good quality lives and achieve viral suppression. Only then can we get them to know their status and begin the journey towards ending AIDS as a public health threat in the Caribbean,” it added.This year World AIDS Day was held under the theme ‘Know your status’.last_img read more