Statements and Webcast
H. E. Ms. Monique Agnès Ohsan Bellepeau, Vice President
8 June 2011
- Statement: English (Check against delivery)
MONIQUE AGNES OHSAN BELLEPEAU, Vice President of Mauritius, said, in the face of unprecedented human catastrophe caused by HIV/AIDS, it was vital to review past efforts and progress, and to chart a new path forward. There was no time for complacency. She called for strict prevention strategies and universal access to treatment to reach zero infections, discrimination and AIDS-related deaths. Political commitment was vital in that regard. In 2007, the Prime Minister of Mauritius had launched a multi-sectoral response to the disease. In Mauritius, the disease was mainly prevalent among intravenous drug users and men who have sex with men men. A behavioural survey in 2009 and 2010 aimed to better guide the country’s response to the disease. It revealed that up to 75 per cent of newly detected cases were among intravenous drug users. In 2005, the Government took bold action to implement a harm-reduction strategy. An HIV/AIDS act was passed to provide a legal framework for a needle-exchange programme and to eliminate all forms of discrimination against people living with the disease.
That spurred creation of a methadone maintenance therapy and needle exchange programme, which caused the rate of transmission among intravenous drug users to fall from 93 per cent in 2005 to 74 per cent in 2010, she said. The Government offered free antiretroviral therapy. A 2010 treatment protocol gave everyone access to care. The perception of risk of HIV was still low among the wider population. Decentralized programmes across the island had improved access to treatment and programmes to prevent mother-to-child transmission were set up in 1999. All pregnant women were offered an HIV test and all HIV-positive pregnant women received free medical care, in line with WHO recommendations. An HIV test was also given to all new prison inmates. All HIV-positive inmates received the same level of treatment as those in the non-prison population. Mauritius had set up a 2012-2016 drug control master plan. Her Government aspired to achieve zero new infections through prevention strategies. In 2008, it amended national laws to remove the marriage ban against HIV-positive people.