Statements and Webcast
H. E. Ms. Sarah Wescot-Williams, Prime Minister of St. Maarten
8 June 2011
- Statement: English (Check against delivery)
SARAH WESCOT-WILLIAMS, Prime Minister of Sint Maarten, speaking on behalf of the Netherlands, said the HIV prevalence rate was much higher in the Dutch Caribbean islands than the mainland. It was most prevalent among key populations, notably men who had sex with other men. Sint Maarten’s response to the disease was rights-based and fully embedded in the general health-care system. Sint Maarten had tailored programmes to the needs of key population. Programmes for people living with HIV and those in high-risk groups were closely in line with Assembly principles. But, the population of people living with HIV was ageing. Stigma and discrimination still occurred. Making treatment available over the long-term was a problem in the Dutch Caribbean. Harm reduction programmes had limited the number of infections among people using intravenous drugs. Thanks to testing and quality care, the transmission rate in Sint Maarten was now zero. Comprehensive sex education worked well. Armed with knowledge and access to youth friendly services, young people were having safer sex in Saint Maarten.
But sex education in other parts of the Kingdom had not been systematically introduced and young people were having sex at a younger age, she said. Improved policies were needed to counter that and too much remained to be done to combat the epidemic worldwide. Existing financing targets should be met in order to achieve universal access to treatment. Stronger measures were needed to address the epidemic among key populations. Legal barriers must be eliminated. That required bold political leadership. “We must accept the reality that most HIV infections are sexually transmitted. We must accept that young people are sexually active and equip them well to make safe choices,” she said. The outcome document should address the gender-based violence and human rights abuses of people living with HIV.