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Belize prepares to roll out PrEP program, drug that reduces HIV exposure

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Posted: Friday, March 4, 2022. 2:20 pm CST.

By Benjamin Flowers: Belize is one of several Caribbean countries preparing to roll out a programme for key populations on the use of Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), medications that have been shown to decrease the transmission of HIV. To get stakeholders in the national HIV response prepared for the programme, the Pan Caribbean Partnership Against HIV and AIDS, (PANCAP) teamed up with the National AIDS Commission (NAC) to hold a virtual three-day capacity building workshop.

The workshop, held from February 22-24, had a wide representation of participants including personnel from the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MOHW) United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), civil society groups, and members of the key target populations including men who have sex with men (MSM), sex workers, members of the transgender community and serodiscordant couples (couples where only one partner is HIV positive).

According to the NAC, the key objectives of the workshop were to provide participants with an overview of most recent WHO recommendations on PrEP and nPEP, new scientific evidence and implementation data emerging from the field; to present current WHO guidance on PrEP programming and provide a space for participants to share experiences among countries and prepare for PrEP/nPEP implementation planning, scale-up, and innovation; to increase knowledge of participants in the clinical management of PrEP & nPeP as well as the delivery of services, and to support the implementation and or scale-up of PrEP and nPEP services at the national levels.

Enrique Romero, Executive Director, National AIDS Commission (NAC) Secretariat, noted that the PrEP is a key implementation strategy for HIV prevention under Belize’s HIV National Strategic Plan (NSP). He also said that Belize’s PrEP pilot programme is set to be launched later this year.

Sandra Jones, Technical Advisor HIV/STI, TB & Viral Hepatitis, PAHO/WHO – Subregional Program Coordination, Caribbean, underscored the significance of the training activity as more countries in the Region commence PrEP implementation.

PANCAP also organized a poll at the end of sessions 1 and 2 to get participant feedback and discussed the findings from those polls during session 3.

Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, and Guyana have recently joined four other countries that have established PrEP services (The Bahamas, Barbados, Haiti, and Jamaica).

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