The conference brought together over 2,000 participants from across the region, and focused on ‘Strengthening Evidence to Achieve Sustainable Action’. An innovative aspect of the conference, linked to the main focus of sustainability, is that a special committee will be established that will present recommendations to form the basis for a sustainability action plan for the HIV response in the region. This is an area of work that Alliance Linking organisation, the Caribbean HIV/AIDS Alliance (CHAA), has extensive experience in.
One important component of the Eastern Caribbean Community Action Project, which ended in February 2011 and was funded by USAID through the Alliance secretariat, was to develop research and strategic information to fill some of the gaps in data on the HIV response in the Eastern Caribbean. This information has also informed a new 5-year USAID agreement that CHAA secured earlier this year. A key aspect of this new project will be to strengthen the capacity and buy-in of national AIDS programmes to provide comprehensive services to populations who are most-at-risk of HIV. The project expands CHAA’s previous work, and will now reach seven countries across the Eastern Caribbean.
CHAA were present in the Bahamas to present on the experiences they
have amassed in recent months and years. Staff members presented five
abstracts on a variety of subjects at the conference including:
barriers to prevention for most at risk populations in the small
islands of the Eastern Caribbean.
- Vulnerabilities of gay men to HIV in Barbados.
Engaging with the tourism sector for joint work on HIV in Jamaica and
Other topics at the centre of many discussions at the conference were political leadership on the human rights issues related to HIV which have traditionally been surrounded by silence, and the discussion around legal reform in the Caribbean.
The legislative framework in many Caribbean countries currently encourages stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV and other key populations. There is no legislation against discrimination on the basis of HIV status, for example, and the criminalization of certain activities, such as sex work, or sexual relations between people of the same sex compounds this.
You can see a gallery of photos from the conference here.
Legislative frameworks in many Caribbean countries currently encourage stigma and discrimination