There are many meetings speaking of the Fast Track and the 90-90-90 strategy, as well as of zero discrimination, combination prevention, and how to face the challenges of the epidemic by the year 2030.
“Knowing that the issue of HIV is surrounded by stigma and discrimination and that people are afraid of knowing their diagnosis, the fact that more than 15,000 people came and got tested, made this campaign more than successful”, commented Aurelio Nuñez, head of the national program of HIV in Panama.
This is a campaign carried out every year in Panama, and this year 100 people were tested positive; also some cases of syphilis were found, since the campaign also offered this kind of test free of charge.
The leader of the national HIV program stressed that, two years ago, Panama’s HIV testing diagnostic system was modified, so that every person can be diagnosed and receive their results in less than an hour, before this, it could take up to six weeks.
When it comes to treatment and follow-up, it is expected that those populations at higher risk and which are diagnosed through the Global Fund’s proposal from next year on, can be referred and served in our friendly clinics.
In order to move forward to the 90-90-90 strategy, Panama signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Centre for Excellence in HIV and AIDS. In this way, the Center will provide technical assistance to the country.
“For example, genotyping in the country cost US $300 each, but with the methodology used in Vancouver now it costs us less than $80, this means that the same money we’re paying a company, if they are conducted using the open technology, we would be saving four times more (…)”, said Núñez.
Regarding antiretroviral treatment, the Chief’s program said that a bigger budget for the purchase of drugs will be allocated, but that it is a “starter” investment, which finally will help save resources to the State to prevent new infections, by treating people early.
On the other hand, Núñez also said the following:
“We believe that the working relationship between civil society and the national program for HIV and Viral Hepatitis is and has been very productive. We have received much support from civil society and hope that we continue working like this with respect. We cannot agree all the time, but we do must respect the points of view of each party”, he stated.
The 90-90-90 strategy represents a challenge to the health systems of our countries, but we truly believe that the key to success, is getting the State and Civil society to work together.