Panama took an important step to joining the UNAIDS’ accelerated action strategy and bet to meet the goal of zero new hiv infections to 2030. Hand in hand with the signing of the agreement, UNAIDS appointed the Panamanian first lady as Ambassador of hiv in Latin America.
During the official visit of Michel Sidibé to Panama on 16th November in the Amphitheater of the Presidency was signed an agreement between the Ministry of Health and UNAIDS, aimed at the 90-90-90 goals. In the same ceremony, the first lady of Panamá, Varela Lorena Castillo, was officially designated as Special Ambassador for UNAIDS on hiv in Latin America.
Panama has made progress in the response and it is right to point out that the Ministry of Health has strengthened clinics care for the population at highest risk and by 2016 it is planned to open three more clinics, located in the Changuinola, Santiago and the Azuero Peninsula areas. On the other hand, in June of this year, it was held the first hiv testing national campaign, which reached about 15.152 people who get tested on a voluntary basis.
During the ceremony, the Ministry of Health committed to ensuring the necessary funds to offer free hiv testing to the most vulnerable population. Likewise, it was also announced the start of treatment with CD4 levels being less than or equal to five hundred in the general population; furthermore, the strategy of testing and treatment for key populations will be also applied, and the anti-retroviral treatment to women who initiate it during pregnancy will continue.
Finally, the Minister of Health made allusion to the progress that has been made in conjunction with the business sector, which effectively through Cinta Roja Empresarial, has contributed to the national response.
“You may have the absolute certainty Mr. UNAIDS Executive Director, the Government of the Republic of Panama, as well expressed by the Minister of Health, will give all the momentum to the expansion of the coverage of the hiv testing and take the accelerated action plan to fight HIV health to services to all people who need it”, said the first lady.