The National Strategic Plan and the National Operational Plan on HIV and AIDS was launched today at the Biltmore Plaza Hotel in Belize City.

The purpose of the plan is to coordinate the national response to HIV for the next 5 years. It's a huge effort and requires the collaboration of over 23 different agencies.

Director of the National Aids Commission Martin Cuellar outlined the priority areas for us:..

Martin Cuellar, Director of the National Aids Commission
"And so equally important is for us to continue to reduce the number of new infections but for us to improve the quality and the length of life of people living with HIV and then also for us to continue to improve the environment in which we are doing the work we do so that it can happen a little bit more smoothly and a little bit more efficiently and quickly."

"We utilize the input and the collaboration of over 23 different agencies, government departments, civil society organizations and community base organizations and so the implementation of the plan will be done at that level. We like to use the phrase "think nationally, act locally" and so all our member agencies will be the actual implementers of the plan."

Jules Vasquez
"How do you interpret what I would call a mediocre turnout and the fact that the highlight of the event which was the handover to the Prime Minister's Office was a non-event because there is no representative of the Prime Minister's Office? Is there an in-difference settling in because HIV has been a subject at the forefront for so long and it seems the numbers are down, so maybe its solving itself."

Martin Cuellar
"That is the most important mistake that any of us can make Jules and thank you for allowing us and for backing us up when you make your stories about this launch in that we clarify for all of the country; government right down to you and I, the point is that we cannot assume that HIV - because we are seeing a decrease in new infections is going away or is gone because as the actually statistics since 1985 show that the incidents does go down from time to time but it has the power of bouncing right back up and we've seen that happen already and globally we've seen that happen."

"Just the particular point about governments' commitment - I don't think that the particular presence of particular representatives and members of the government here or not being here today speaks entirely for the government's commitment."

The NAC is presently carrying out the first behavior surveillance study to find the pockets where infections are increasing.

Channel 7