Remarks by Chargé d’Affaires John W. McIntyre
Launch of the Partnerships for Youth: Alive and Well Program
in recognition of World AIDS Day 2018
Public Affairs Conference Room
November 28, 2018
The Honorable Chief Justice, Mr. Justice Ivor Archie, Chief Justice of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago
The Honorable Shamfa Cudjoe, Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs
His Worship, Joel Martinez, Mayor of Port of Spain
Dr. Keven Antoine, Director, HIV and AIDS Coordinating Unit, Ministry of Health
Dr. Varough Deyde, CDC Director
Dr. Nyla Lyons, CDC Specialist
Dr. Jeffrey Edwards, MRF Director
Other Distinguished Speakers
Ladies and Gentlemen
Members of the Media
It is my absolute honor to be here in recognition of World AIDS Day 2018 as a testimony to our enduring commitment to working closely with the government and people of Trinidad and Tobago in the fight against HIV and AIDS.
With this Worlds AIDS Day, we mark 15 years of the U.S. building a global alliance to confront HIV and AIDS through the President’s Emergency Program for AIDS Relief, better known as PEPFAR. Since its establishment in 2003, PEPFAR has invested more than $80 billion in the global HIV/AIDS response – the largest commitment made by any nation in history to address a single disease.
Yes, we are proud of what we and our partners have accomplished and will continue to accomplish until this disease is eradicated.
Today, we recognize the ambitious efforts of our partners – led by the Ministry of Health and the Medical Research Foundation – to reach the UNAIDS 90 90 90 targets by 2020.
This mean that by 2020, 90 percent of all persons living with HIV know their status, 90 percent of persons who know their status are initiated on treatment, and 90 percent of persons on treatment have the virus suppressed in their blood stream.
We recognize and thank Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh’s commitment to ensure that PEPFAR funds prioritize programs increasing access to life-saving treatment for all persons living with HIV.
Secondly, we want to appreciate the ongoing efforts of the Medical Research Foundation and Dr. Jeffrey Edwards, who have been great partners to the Ministry of Health as it collaborates with the Embassy and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control in their work with HIV treatment facilities across Trinidad and Tobago.
Today is an exciting moment in the country’s fight against HIV and AIDS. Together with the Medical Research Foundation, the Embassy launches the “Partnerships for Youth: Alive and Well” program – an initiative to bring together government, private business, nonprofits, communities, and care givers in an ambitious drive to support youth living with HIV.
Globally, young people – especially young women – continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV. In 2017, over 30% of all new HIV infections worldwide were among youth ages 15 to 25 years – reminding us of the crucial role that youth play in the global response to AIDS.
In Trinidad and Tobago, 1,643 youth are estimated to be living with HIV and while the number of new infections among youth has stabilized, there is still a lot of work to be done.
Youth living with HIV represent a vulnerable population, as they must cope with the profound stigma and discrimination associated with HIV as well as the challenges of transitioning into adulthood.
Addressing HIV in youth requires that young people have access to youth-friendly services.
The program we launch today – Partnerships for Youth: Alive and Well – provides youths with the tools and incentives they need to reduce their risk of transmission, make responsible choices, and adopt safe behaviors so they live to be healthy adults.
This important initiative leverages the power of public-private partnerships to address the challenges impacting our youth living with HIV. The Embassy, CDC, Ministry of Health and Medical Research Foundation are thrilled to have with us today our partners including the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs, Gilead Sciences, Sagicor, The Massy Group, Rotary Club of Maraval, City of Port of Spain, the Hibiscus Foundation, and others.
Specifically, I want to thank Ms. Wendy Samaroo and Dr. Nyla Lyons for their leadership. Without their behind-the-scenes work, none of this would have been possible. Wendy, could you stand and tell us why you think funding this program is important?
The good news is that we are building on success. Our efforts are making an impact. As Secretary of State Pompeo announced this week, PEPFAR has saved more than 17 million lives and is currently supporting over 14.6 million people on lifesaving antiretroviral treatment.
In closing, let me add that we now have the historic opportunity to make what once seemed impossible possible – controlling and ultimately ending AIDS as a public health threat around the world.
Partnerships for Youth: Alive and Well will continue to lead us down this positive path. I thank everyone here today and wish us all great success in this endeavor.