News / Caribbean HIV Care Meeting during AIDS 2018 in Amsterdam

During the International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam, the Caribbean HIV Care Meeting 2018 took place. We are looking back on a very interesting and inspiring meeting, with excellent talks and discussions.

The speakers from Barbados, Curacao, French Guiana, Haiti, Jamaica, PAHO, Puerto Rico and Surinam all stressed the specific difficulties of the different Caribbean islands and countries. It was interesting to hear that on some islands Haiti for instance, the test and treat program worked very well. People were instantly comforted with treatment after the diagnosis. On other islands, health workers were more hesitant to start treatment at the first visit.

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The only thing that was common all over the region was the stigma and discrimination. The stories that most infections were brought into the region by immigrants, was contradicted by an excellent study from French Guiana.

However, a new challenge to be faced is the influx of refugees from Venezuela fanning all over the islands and the neighboring countries. Venezuela's economic crisis has left the country's health system on the verge of collapse. Due to the shortage of food and medication, HIV patients were succumbing to secondary infections like we saw before the antiretroviral treatment (ART) was introduced. Luckily as part of ViiVs mission to leave no person living with HIV behind, they have been working with partners such as Aid for Aids and UNAIDS to donate enough medicine to treat more than 25,000 patients in Venezuela every month. This represents the largest donation of medicine in ViiV Healthcare’s history. We thank ViiV for their generous support to Venezuela but also for the meeting that was sponsored in collaboration by Janssen and ViiV!

As Clive Landis from Barbados mentioned afterward: "We are a complicated region in terms of logistics but we have a great spirit of togetherness." We felt this at the Caribbean HIV Care Meeting in Amsterdam. Kudos to the organizers! We all are looking forward to future collaborations.

The organizing committee:

Bert Rodenburg, MD, infectious diseases specialist, Chair Dutch Caribbean Association of Professionals in HIV care (DCAPH), H. Oduber Hospital, Aruba
Jessica de Vocht, MD, infectious diseases specialist, DCAPH, Bonaire
Gonneke Hermanides, MD PhD, fellow- infectious diseases, AMC, Amsterdam
Prof. Eric van Gorp, internist-infectious diseases specialist, CIRION foundation, Erasmus MC, Rotterdam
Prof. Fransje van der Waals, Global Health Education, Health[e]Foundation, AMC, Amsterdam
Prof. Ashley Duits, medical immunologist, Red Cross Blood Bank Foundation, St. Elisabeth Hospital, Curaçao

All presentations were filmed by Saar Koopman and can be downloaded here.