Stakeholders urged to work together for the common good of humanity

Tuesday 10 September 2019 (PANCAP Coordinating Unit, CARICOM Secretariat): The Pan-Caribbean Partnership against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP), the mechanism that provides a structured and unified approach to the Caribbean’s response to the HIV epidemic, convened the Second joint regional dialogue with parliamentarians, faith leaders, civil society leaders, national AIDS programme managers and youth leaders in Port-of-Spain, Republic of Trinidad and Tobago on 10 September 2019.

Mr Ian Ramdahin Permanent Secretary (ag), Secretariat of the National AIDS Coordinating Committee (NACC), Office of the Prime Minister, Republic of Trinidad and Tobago delivered remarks on behalf of Hon Ayana Webster-Roy, Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister, holding the portfolios of Gender and Child Affairs, Ecclesiastical Affairs and Central Administration Services, Tobago.

Mr Ramdahin emphasised that as the 2020 juncture for reporting on how each country and the region, as a whole, would have performed regarding the 2020 targets set by UNAIDS, assessing progress with responses to date in combatting HIV and AIDS is of paramount importance.  He noted this will highlight and influence the adjustments required to chart the new roadmap for guiding the level of scale-up necessary for achieving the more significant target of “Ending AIDS by 2030.”

The permanent secretary praised PANCAP for the concerted effort in mobilising and engaging the key stakeholders comprising Parliamentarians, Faith Leaders, Civil Society Leaders, National AIDS Programme (NAP) Managers and Youth Leaders.  He stated that these stakeholders have important and influential roles in determining how we protect those who are most vulnerable to HIV; and care, treat and respect those who are living with HIV and AIDS.  “I must commend PANCAP for establishing the mechanisms for monitoring the arrangements in place for responding to the HIV disease, which allows us to gauge and report on the progress to date,” stated Mr Ramdahin, “Through PANCAP’s sustained efforts, we are able to identify and re-evaluate the areas in need of redress or further collaboration, and ensure that there is ongoing follow-up action”.

Mr Ramdahin further stated that “in aiming for our target of an AIDS-free world by 2030, where new infections are almost negligible, we must remember at the heart of this global campaign is the “protection of the dignity of Human Rights”, which is critical for attaining our Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”.

He noted that geopolitical instability, escalating impacts of climate change and unanticipated financial hurdles are impacting negatively to cause shifting of the disease burden and straining the Region’s ability to mobilize the much-needed resources to mount an effective response.  “We can all agree that if we are to collectively work together towards the goal of ending AIDS by 2030, introspection at the ‘individual and regional governance levels’ are necessary for fostering ‘greater collaboration’ among all stakeholders”, stated Mr Ramdahin.

He further emphasised that in achieving this state of “greater collaboration”, it is incumbent that part of the focus of the Second regional dialogue must be centred around conversations that are geared towards aligning synergies for creating a more diversely inclusive environment that is free of biases, mistrust, phobias, stigma and discrimination, especially at the national and regional levels, where we can more efficiently identify tools and strategies to augment “communication and collaboration” of a richer and deeper quality.

“Today’s forum represents a great opportunity for individuals and their organizations to network and examine societal norms, attitudes and value systems that manifest as communication barriers, which ultimately impede the HIV and AIDS response at the national and regional levels,” stated the permanent secretary, “based on my experience, I would have learnt that the key to the success of any response, be it an oil spill response, natural disaster response or a response to an epidemic such as HIV is rooted in the people who inspire, shape, drive and manoeuvre the response. People are the main determinants in any response and can either make it or break it”.

He reminded the participants that they are the ones who have been empowered to determine the fate of the region as it pertains to HIV and AIDS.  He urged stakeholders to rise to their call of duty and make meaningful contributions for ensuring the removal of all of the barriers for achieving the goal of ending AIDS by 2030.

He stated, “Please be cautioned that if we fail to unmask or decode the barriers because of our personal biases on human rights, the net result will be that we will fail to effectively strategize and fail to meet the diverse needs of our vulnerable groups within the landscape of the response”.

The permanent secretary warned that if key populations vulnerable to HIV are allowed to go unchecked, untreated and unsupported in any country, then society as a whole will ultimately suffer. He stated that the region recognises that HIV and AIDS are a critical development problem which affects the quality of life, labour, families, communities and the national economy – in the present and future. “We do not want to be in this state, so let us all work together for the common good of humanity”, stated Mr Ramdahin.

He further emphasised that the Region can rest assured that the improvements expressed and gains achieved thus far, as well as the forthcoming recommendations, will not only serve to foster an efficient and sustained response to HIV and AIDS within the region but also contribute to other areas that impact on communities’ health and wellbeing.

He challenged participants to take a deep insightful look at the PANCAP’s Justice-For-All programme, which encompasses the adoption of the CARICOM Model Anti-Discrimination Legislation 2012; give due consideration to recommendations that will improve the mechanisms for enhanced inter-regional collaboration within CARICOM member States; and take into consideration the targets established by the United Nations High-Level Meeting Political Declaration June 2016 on ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030; the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) approved by 192 nations at the United Nations in September 2015; and the commitments made by  civil society, faith-based and other implementing stakeholder groups.

“Despite the successes to date, let us not become complacent or despondent about the world economic and financial downturns. We are here on a mission and tasked with ascertaining “innovative ways” for addressing how to sustain our responses for ending HIV and AIDS by 2030” stated Mr Ramdahin.

He further stated that the future goal of ending AIDS by 2030 is achievable and will only be sustained through the collective efforts of Parliamentarians, Faith Leaders, Civil Society Leaders, Youth and National AIDS Programme (NAP) Managers working in harmony to ensure open, honest and consistent dialogue and collaboration to unlock and overcome the barriers for achieving our regional and international goals.

“In making your respective contributions at this second Regional Dialogue, please be guided by CARICOM’s Vision statement which proposes a “Caribbean Community that is integrated, inclusive and resilient; driven by knowledge, excellence, innovation and productivity; a Community where every citizen is secure and has the opportunity to realise his or her potential with guaranteed human rights and social justice; and contributes to, and shares in, its economic, social and cultural prosperity; a Community which is a unified and competitive force in the global arena,” stated Mr Mr Ramdahin.

He advised that a vision is needed to start the process of charting the course and invited stakeholders to keep this vision in mind as they deliberate on the joint National and Regional Level Policy Formulation and Activities for advancing the short, medium and long term goals of the PANCAP’s Justice For All Roadmap.

“Despite the obstacles and challenges currently faced by many countries in the region, I would like to re-affirm Trinidad and Tobago’s commitment towards establishing an enabling environment for meeting the 90-90-90 Targets in 2020 and continued support for programmatic activities thereafter for ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030,” stated the PS.

He highlighted that the Second Dialogue represents yet another step in the way forward for laying the foundations for increasing engagement and promoting solidarity among stakeholder groups and the persons we serve.

Mr Ramdahin thanked the stakeholders for their unwavering commitment and engagement in the regional dialogue. He stated “the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.  Let us wisely deliberate to strategise our next steps to determine the response tools and mechanisms for achieving the desired results.  I truly believe that an AIDS-free generation is certainly within our reach, but we must remain loyal and work in tandem with PANCAP to achieve the goals set before us”.

 In opening remarks, Director of PANCAP, Dereck Springer, reflected on the First Joint Regional Dialogue held in April 2018 which brought together Parliamentarians representing Government and Opposition, Members of the Regional Faith Leaders Steering Committee and other selected Faith Leaders, Regional Civil Society Leaders who work with Key Populations, members of the PANCAP Youth Advocacy Steering Committee and National AIDS Programme Managers.

The Director noted that the stakeholders of the first regional dialogue held in April 2018 provided recommendations including the need to create guidelines for respectful dialogue between key populations leaders and faith leaders.  In response, PANCAP prepared general principles designed to assist and support respectful dialogue between and among stakeholders, especially in cases where discussions are centered on sensitive and controversial issues. These include discussions that may involve social, cultural and doctrinal issues in conflict with each other.

Another recommendation from the first dialogue was the review and revision of the PANCAP Justice for all (JFA) Roadmap (2014) in light of developments over the last five years.  In response, PANCAP, with inputs from various stakeholders’ dialogue, revised the JFA Roadmap

The Director of PANCAP also highlighted that during the 2018 meeting, faith leaders indicated that they could not endorse the UNESCO Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) models since they were unfamiliar with them.  To improve their understanding, PANCAP developed nine infographics which illustrate the key components of the CSE models.

The Director further explained that the Second Regional Dialogue is positioned within the new Caribbean Regional Strategic Framework on HIV and AIDS (CRSF) 2019 – 2025. He emphasised that the CRSF articulates the vision, goals, objectives, strategic priorities and key strategies which will guide the Region’s HIV response over the next six years.  “We are moving closer to ending AIDS, so we need all hands on deck,” stated Mr Springer, “With that in mind, we are required to be bold and innovative as reflected by the strategies within the CRSF 2019-2025.

The meeting applauded the Director’s announcement of the award of the US$6,500.00 for the Multi-country Caribbean grant for PANCAP, the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC) and the Centro de Orientación e Investigación Integral (COIN) by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria from October 2019 to September 2022. He noted that the new grant is unique since it is a joint PANCAP-CVC-COIN collaboration.  “The Grant is a demonstration of the collaboration between Governments and civil society partners,” stated Mr Springer, “it illustrates the critical need for us to ensure that we position civil society as key partners within the HIV response”.

Dr John Waters, Programme Manager, CVC delivered remarks on behalf Mr Ivanhoe Cruikshank, Executive Director, CVC.  He briefly reflected on the progress made on documenting human rights abuses.  He stated that this has been a priority of CVC and its partners since human rights abuses involving vulnerable groups are not given the attention they deserve. He highlighted that CVC has developed the Shared Incident Database (SID) for systematically documenting abuses and has provided the impetus for vulnerable groups to report and speak out against stigma and discrimination.

Dr Waters explained that CVC currently has in excess of 40 civil society partners registered with SID that are documenting human rights abuses throughout the Region.  He also highlighted CVC’s dedicated team of community paralegals who were trained to assist in the documentation of human rights abuse cases.  Dr Waters also highlighted that CVC has created a cohort of human rights lawyers who champion cases involving vulnerable groups and discrimination. He emphasised that these initiatives have resulted in progress with regard to CVC’s engagement with policymakers and Governments.  He stated, “We are beginning to see some tangible results in achieving justice for all”.

– ENDS –

What is PANCAP?

PANCAP is a Caribbean regional partnership of governments, regional civil society organisations, regional institutions and organisations, bilateral and multilateral agencies and contributing donor partners which was established on 14 February 2001. PANCAP provides a structured and unified approach to the Caribbean’s response to the HIV epidemic, coordinates the response through the Caribbean Regional Strategic Framework on HIV and AIDS to maximise efficient use of resources and increase impact, mobilises resources and build capacity of partners.

What are the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) 90-90-90 Targets?

  • By 2020, 90% of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status.
  • By 2020, 90% of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy.
  • By 2020, 90% of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression.

Contact:

Timothy Austin
Communications Specialist
PANCAP Coordinating Unit
CARICOM Secretariat
Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana
Email:      taustin.consultant@caricom.org
Tel: (592) 222-0001-75, Ext. 3409  | Visit www.PANCAP.org

Helpful links:

  • Joint Regional Dialogue with Faith Leaders, Parliamentarians, Civil Society Leaders, National AIDS Programme Managers and Youth Leaders

https://pancap.org/pancap-events/joint-regional-dialogue-with-faith-leaders-parliamentarians-civil-society-leaders-national-aids-programme-managers-and-youth-leaders/

  • Global AIDS Update 2018 – Miles to Go:

https://pancap.org/pancap-documents/global-aids-update-2018-miles-to-go/

Diverse group of regional stakeholders to discuss strategies for fostering collaboration for ending AIDS

Wednesday 4 September 2019 (PANCAP Coordinating Unit, CARICOM Secretariat): The Pan-Caribbean Partnership against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP), the mechanism that provides a structured and unified approach to the Caribbean’s response to the HIV epidemic, will convene the Second joint regional dialogue with parliamentarians, faith leaders, civil society leaders, national AIDS programme managers and youth leaders in Port-of-Spain, Republic of Trinidad and Tobago on 10 September 2019. The theme of the event is “Assessing progress towards ending AIDS”.

 According to Director of PANCAP, Dereck Springer, the Dialogue will provide an update on the implementation of recommendations that emanated from the first Regional Dialogue held in April 2018.  Stakeholders will also explore personal values and attitudes that may contribute to reinforcing differences or fostering an environment that supports diversity.

The Director further explained that the five stakeholder groups – Parliamentarians, Faith Leaders, Civil Society Leaders, National AIDS Programme Managers and Youth Leaders – would be involved in interactive sessions which will allow them to discuss and propose options on the way forward for each stakeholder group, including areas for collaboration with other stakeholder groups beyond the current Global Fund grant.

“Conscious that there remain challenges with differences among some stakeholder groups, the Regional Dialogue will provide a space to allow stakeholders to explore their personal values and divergent views, as well as the implicit biases that serve as barriers to communication with and acceptance of different groups,” stated the PANCAP Director.  He further highlighted that through group discussions stakeholders would clarify their values, identify the challenges and responses required to overcome the gaps in trust, diversity and social identity that currently exist among stakeholders.

The PANCAP Director emphasised that the Dialogue will seek to ascertain from stakeholder groups what is needed to develop positive attitudes to diverse social identities, such as men who have sex with men, transgender persons, sex workers, persons who use drugs, migrants and persons with disabilities.

In addition, the five stakeholder groups will be involved in identifying strategies for fostering collaboration for ending AIDS, areas for cooperation between stakeholders and support needs for advancing stakeholders’ work at the national level.

Participants will include Parliamentarians representing Government and Opposition, Members of the Regional Faith Leaders Steering Committee and other selected Faith Leaders, Regional Civil Society Leaders who work with Key Populations, members of the PANCAP Youth Advocacy Steering Committee and National AIDS Programme Managers.

-ENDS –

What is PANCAP?

PANCAP is a Caribbean regional partnership of governments, regional civil society organisations, regional institutions and organisations, bilateral and multilateral agencies and contributing donor partners which was established on 14 February 2001. PANCAP provides a structured and unified approach to the Caribbean’s response to the HIV epidemic, coordinates the response through the Caribbean Regional Strategic Framework on HIV and AIDS to maximise efficient use of resources and increase impact, mobilises resources and build capacity of partners.

What are the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) 90-90-90 Targets?

  • By 2020, 90% of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status.
  • By 2020, 90% of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy.
  • By 2020, 90% of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression.

Contact:

Timothy Austin

Communications Specialist

PANCAP Coordinating Unit

CARICOM Secretariat

Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana

Email:      taustin.consultant@caricom.org

Tel: (592) 222-0001-75, Ext. 3409  | Visit www.PANCAP.org

Helpful links:

  • Joint Regional Dialogue with Faith Leaders, Parliamentarians, Civil Society Leaders, National AIDS Programme Managers and Youth Leaders

https://pancap.org/pancap-events/joint-regional-dialogue-with-faith-leaders-parliamentarians-civil-society-leaders-national-aids-programme-managers-and-youth-leaders/

  • Global AIDS Update 2018 – Miles to Go:

https://pancap.org/pancap-documents/global-aids-update-2018-miles-to-go/

2019 World AIDS Day theme: “Communities make the difference”

The theme of the 2019 observance of World AIDS Day is “Communities make the difference”.

The commemoration of World AIDS Day is an important opportunity for stakeholders to recognize the essential role that communities have played and continue to play in the AIDS response at the international, national and local levels.

Communities contribute to the AIDS response in many different ways. Their leadership and advocacy ensure that the response remains relevant and grounded, keeping people at the centre and leaving no one behind. Communities include peer educators, networks of people living with or affected by HIV, such as gay men and other men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs and sex workers, women and young people, counsellors, community health workers, door-to-door service providers, civil society organizations and grass-roots activists.

World AIDS Day offers an important platform to highlight the role of communities at a time when reduced funding and a shrinking space for civil society are putting the sustainability of services and advocacy efforts in jeopardy. Greater mobilization of communities is urgently required to address the barriers that stop communities delivering services, including restrictions on registration and an absence of social contracting modalities. The strong advocacy role played by communities is needed more than ever to ensure that AIDS remains on the political agenda, that human rights are respected and that decision-makers and implementers are held accountable.

We will be sharing more updates as the event approaches.

PANCAP anticipates a highly successful World AIDS Day 2019.

What is World AIDS Day?

World AIDS Day is held on 1 December each year and is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died. World AIDS Day was the first-ever global health day, held for the first time in 1988.

PANCAP-CVC-COIN awarded Multi-country Caribbean Global Fund Grant

On 16 August, the Board of The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria approved a US$6,500.00 Multi-country Caribbean grant for PANCAP-CVC-COIN.  The CARICOM Secretariat will serve as the Principal Recipient while PANCAP, CVC and COIN will serve as Sub-Recipients. The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA),  the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the Cuban National Center for Sex Education (CENESEX) are Sub-sub-recipients.

The grant, titled “Sustainability of services for key populations in the Caribbean” will commence on 1 October 2019 and will end on 30 September 2022.  Men who have sex with men (MSM), Sex workers and Transgender people are direct beneficiaries of the grant which will be spread across ten counties, namely Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Suriname and the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

The Goal of the grant is to Provide Sustainable Prevention, Treatment and Care Services for Key Populations in the Caribbean Region.

Four strategies will be pursued to achieve the goal of the grant. These are:

  • Increase domestic resources for effective key population programming
  • Mobilise resources for key population organisations
  • Reduce structural barriers to key population services including stigma and discrimination and gender-based violence
  • Improve knowledge generation and use of strategic information on key populations for decision-making and advocacy by communities and other stakeholders.

The key activities are geared toward programmes to reduce human rights-related barriers to HIV services – HIV and HIV/TB related legal services; and community responses and systems, institutional capacity building, planning and leadership development.

The Global Fund deemed the overall programme to be technically sound and strategically focused as it demonstrates added value from a multi-country approach, compared to a country-specific approach, leveraging existing regional partnerships and structures.

Director’s Message – August 2019

The Tenth International AIDS Society (IAS) Conference on HIV Science which was held in Mexico City on the 21-24 July 2019 provided a space for researchers to showcase advances in HIV Science. As expected presentations, panel discussions, and posters on HIV prevention initiatives, PrEP, Treat All, stigma and discrimination and sustainability dominated the conference. However, for me, the key takeaway message was that ending AIDS as a public health threat requires bold political action to address policy and legislative changes for eliminating stigma and discrimination and increasing and maintaining national investment in HIV.

Stigma and discrimination continue to impede access to prevention, treatment and care services particularly among key populations, inter alia men who have sex with men, transgender persons, sex workers, persons who use drugs, people with disabilities, women and girls and indigenous people. Stigma remains a structural barrier to ending AIDS and a key component of the response. The conference brought this into sharper focus by providing a preponderance of evidence that people who experience stigma are at an increased risk of HIV. One presenter stated that stigma is a fundamental determinant of health, and health equity and suggested that stigma undermines three key determinants of health: access to resources; access to social support; and access to psychological and behavioural responses through exclusion. In relation to HIV stigma, one moderator queried whether it is different from other types of stigma. Indeed, it is, and there is a fundamental difference. The way that HIV stigma is felt is based on moral judgment. It is unique as it is associated with sexual, drug use and racial biases which people see as ‘the other’. It is also seen as contagious.

From my more than two decades of work and research on HIV stigma, I am convinced that real change can only come about through interpersonal engagement with people who stigmatise. Individuals can only begin the process of change if they can internalise how their stigmatising attitude perpetuates stigma and how this impacts the lives of people who experience stigma. One of my mentors, Bonita Harris, a Guyanese educator, has held the view that stigma work is hard work. It is where the rubber hits the road. Such work must facilitate self-awareness, which allows people to reflect on how they felt when they were seen or treated as ‘the other’. It is only then that they can begin the process of seeing themselves in the experiences of others and to move from intolerance to genuine acceptance of the other irrespective of who he or she is or his or her values.

Stigma is complex, however, if we focus on its complexity, we will fail to act. To act, we must first hold ourselves accountable by our language and how we describe language as cultural. One presenter focused his presentation on policy as a structural determinant of HIV risk in the context of persons who use drugs. He cited the confiscation of syringes from persons who use drugs and how this increases their risk and vulnerability to HIV when they feel forced to share syringes. He also cited police confiscation of condoms from sex workers and its corresponding risk to those women and men. He argued that policy and criminal justice reform is an HIV prevention imperative and that punitive legislation distances people from testing and treatment as it criminalises while having no positive impact on preventing HIV infection. Punitive and non-protective laws are associated with HIV infection. He advocated for evidenced-based and human rights affirming policies to be fully part of the HIV response and emphasised that policy commitment is required for sustainability of key populations model of prevention, treatment, care and support services.

Political commitment is required for key populations provision and access to services. Strong leadership of ministries of health and policymakers were cited as game changers in Thailand that ensured key populations model of care. The Caribbean Regional Strategic Framework on HIV and AIDS (CRSF) 2019-2025 includes a Strategic Priority Area (SPA) – Critical programmes and social enablers for creating an enabling environment. It outlines several strategies, including design and implementation focused strategies to target identified loci of stigma and discrimination directed towards key populations, People living with HIV (PLHIV) and youth. This SPA also responds to the evidence that a multipronged approach is required for achieving an enabling environment. Another strategy is to design, resource, evaluate and scale-up cross-sectoral approaches to pilot comprehensive sexuality education programmes in schools in recognition that our adolescents are growing up without the correct information and skills to reduce their risk and vulnerability to HIV and other social ills.

Under this SPA, the CRSF calls upon countries to intensify and institutionalise cross-sectoral collaboration to implement social protection programmes to address socio-economic drivers of HIV, with emphasis on gender-based violence and vulnerability associated with migration and population movement.

The SPA also recognises the critical need to advocate for sustained domestic resourcing for HIV, health and social protection programmes that deliver comprehensive, differentiated, non-discriminatory services that reach key populations, including the increasing number of migrants in the region.

If the Caribbean is to achieve the goal of the CRSF, that is, to reduce new HIV infections, address health disparities and social inequities, and contribute to the achievement of sustainable health and development, the region requires bold political action for increased investment to address stigma. This would enable us to accrue significant gains across the prevention and the treatment cascade.

UNAIDS 2019 HIV Global Report informed us that the Caribbean is required to have another 106,000 persons on treatment and achieving viral suppression if the Region is to attain the 90-90-90 Targets by the end of 2020. Countries must therefore focus resources to implement strategies to target identified loci of stigma and discrimination directed towards key populations.  This can only be done through bold political, as well as technical leadership and innovative action.

CRN+ conducts a series of Capacity Building Training for National Networks

Image caption: Dr Minerva Pinelo conducting a capacity building session in Belize

The Caribbean Regional Network of People Living with HIV and AIDS (CRN+) has received a grant from the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC) for a project titled “CVC/COIN Challenging Stigma and Discrimination to Improve Access to and Quality of HIV Services in the Caribbean”.

Under output 3 of the grant, CRN+ is focusing on strengthening of community systems and key population networks to use effective advocacy strategies to obtain social accountability mechanisms and scale-up of best practice interventions by national programmes.

CRN+ conducted capacity building training from 15 July to 5 August 2019 in Belize, Dominican Republic, Suriname and the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. The training activities involved over seventy (70) representatives from CRN+ networks, National AIDS Programmes and other key population networks that collaborate with CRN+.

The training focused on three key topic areas including finance essentials and accountability, monitoring and evaluation systems and fundraising essentials.

The fundamental purpose of the capacity building training was to contribute to strengthening the CRN+ networks and increasing the capacity of members to be more effective partners in their national HIV response.

The series of capacity building training provided opportunities for CRN+ to convene additional meetings with representatives of National AIDS Programmes, Ministry of Industry and Commerce and other organisations, to discuss opportunities for improving collaboration with CRN+ national affiliates and leveraging technical and financial support for income generation and other sustainability activities.

Antigua and Barbuda National Faith Leaders Consultation

Friday 16 August 2019 (PANCAP Coordinating Unit, CARICOM Secretariat): The Pan-Caribbean Partnership against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP) in collaboration with the Antigua and Barbuda National AIDS Programme Secretariat (NAPS), with funding from the CARIFORUM 10th European Development Fund (EDF) Programme of Support for Wider Caribbean Cooperation, will host the Antigua and Barbuda Faith Leaders Consultation at the Heritage Quay Hotel, St John’s Antigua on Monday 19 August 2019.

This consultation is a follow-up to a series of engagements with faith leaders under the PANCAP Justice for All programme at the regional level. The consultation will facilitate the development of a national action plan for advancing faith leaders’ implementation of key elements of the Justice for All programme in Antigua and Barbuda. Participants will include 50 faith leaders representing the Antigua and Barbuda religious community.

The action plan is geared towards ending AIDS and providing psychosocial support to those infected and affected by HIV. It will also identify the lessons learned from implementing the UNAIDS Fast Track goals; establishing recommendations for improving the collaboration between the religious community and the national AIDS Programme and civil society partners, and setting priorities and timelines for achieving goals.

Speakers scheduled for the Forum include Bishop Rudolph Harris, Second Vice President, Antigua and Barbuda Evangelic Alliance Zion Church of God, Dr Carson Greene, President Seventh-day Adventist Church, South Leeward Conference, Mr Dereck Springer, Director of PANCAP, and Dr Edward Greene, PANCAP Special Advisor.

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Ministry of Public Health (Guyana) is planning to introduce Pre-exposure prophylaxis (or PrEP)

Image: Minister of Public Health, Hon. Volda Lawrence and UNAIDS Country Director for Guyana and Suriname, Dr Michael Gboun with participants of the HIV Clinical Management and Implementation of PrEP through a Public-Private Partnership Workshop

The Ministry of Public Health (Guyana) is planning to introduce Pre-exposure prophylaxis (or PrEP) as an HIV transmission countermeasure. This is a course of drugs taken pre-emptively against the spread of the disease, mainly targetted at vulnerable groups.

The target population in Guyana for HIV transmission prevention are sex workers with a 6.1% prevalence, men who have sex with men with a 4.9% HIV prevalence, and transgender people with an 8.4% prevalence. This is according to a UNAIDS survey conducted in 2016.

PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis, is an HIV prevention method. People who do not have HIV can take PrEP to reduce their risk of getting HIV if they are exposed to the virus. Another countermeasure will see the government establishing a Public-Private Partnership with doctors within the private sector to whom patients will be referred for treatment.

USAID, UNAIDS and Pan American Health Organisation/World Health Organisation (PAHO/WHO) Office in Guyana along with the Ministry of Public Health hosted an HIV Clinical Management and Implementation of PrEP through a Public-Private Partnership Workshop. The three-day workshop ran from August 12 to 14, 2019.

Minister of Public Health, Hon. Volda Lawrence, who handed over certificates to participants of the workshop, noted that PrEP is a new venture of the ministry and is expected to be an effective measure in HIV prevention.

Essentially, the goal of these two new countermeasures is to ensure that full HIV prevention coverage is attained.

“Our goal is to ensure that we reach everyone everywhere. Guyana is a very small and unique country. As a result of that, it has become a stumbling block in terms of people accessing these services,” Minister Lawrence said.

She explained that due to discrimination, people are often reluctant to know their status and may spread the virus unknowingly. It is for this reason, after examining this fact with partners, the ministry thought it best to create ways in which persons can have confidence in HIV treatment and prevention services.

“The ministry stepping out in this particular venture in terms of creating another space allows persons to have their own choice of access to services. We believe it certainly will work towards the benefit of our people. It certainly will help us in terms of reaching persons and keeping persons in the system and utilising the services available.”

UNAIDS’ new Country Director for Guyana and Suriname, Dr Michael Gboun noted that moving in this direction is important since Guyana is on a road to improving access and achieving universal coverage in health care. “This partnership is important, and more so, when we are now testing a new model, PrEP, it calls for a little bit of close monitoring, closer relationships with patients,” Dr Gboun noted.

Advancing HIV Prevention and Treatment in Guyana through Advocacy

Image: Guyanese civil society participants in a practical exercise facilitated by SASOD Guyana’s Human Rights Coordinator Sarah Bovell (right) at the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC) Advocacy Planning Validation Meeting

While Guyana adopted a “Treat All” strategy in 2018, further advocacy is needed for Guyana to reach its 95-95-95 targets for HIV testing, treatment and viral suppression.  Stemming from this, organizations providing support to vulnerable groups in Guyana met during 2017 and 2018 to discuss HIV-related advocacy needs.

These meetings resulted in an initial set of priority HIV advocacy strategies, and activities were developed to formulate an Advocacy Plan. The CVC then provided funding for advocacy activities included in the plan through the CVC/COIN Caribbean Civil Society project titled “Challenging Stigma and Discrimination to Improve Access to and Quality of HIV Services in the Caribbean.”

On July 18, 2019, Guyana’s Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD Guyana) facilitated an Advocacy Planning Validation Meeting at the Guyana Marriott Hotel in Georgetown on behalf of CVC to engage key stakeholders in identifying suitable, short-term advocacy campaigns and also to revise the Advocacy Implementation Matrix for the period October 2019 to September 2022.  Fifteen persons representing 14 civil society organisations participated in the meeting.

They proposed suggestions for amending of the Implementation Matrix and selected a managing partner to coordinate the implementation of the Advocacy Plan in collaboration with the various partners. The meeting also identified two ranked priority activities.

At the meeting, challenges in reaching persons most-at-risk with testing and prevention of HIV were discussed. These include stigma and discrimination against key populations which prevent them from coming forward to be tested and treated and lack of confidentiality at treatment sites coupled with high turnover among healthcare staff due to low salaries.   These include staff who received HIV–related training resulting in clients having to rebuild trust and rapport with new healthcare staff, which takes time and can result in patient discomfort. Insufficient funding from government and the absence of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) were also identified as major gaps and challenges.

Thoughtful advocacy is needed for high-quality HIV-related healthcare in Guyana in order to monitor the patient experience of health services. This scope would encompass the documentation of instances of stockouts, stigma and discrimination, breaches of confidentiality, and lack of appropriate, competent services and referrals. In addition, the Advocacy Plan recommends conducting an analysis of these situations and providing the Ministry of Public Health with clear recommendations for improvements.

The meeting also discussed the need for ongoing training of healthcare staff to prevent stigma, discrimination and judgmental attitudes. In addition, there should be enforceable measures to ensure that staff preserve the confidentiality of patient information. Further to this, there should be incentives provided to persons who access prevention and treatment services. The meeting called for government support in providing case navigators to aid retention in care and a strategy to collect data on migrant populations since there is limited data about their HIV vulnerabilities.

UNAIDS welcomes the appointment of Winnie Byanyima as its new Executive Director

GENEVA, 14 August 2019—UNAIDS warmly welcomes the appointment of Winnie Byanyima as its new Executive Director. Ms Byanyima has more than 30 years of experience in political leadership, diplomacy and humanitarian engagement.

“I am honoured to be joining UNAIDS as the Executive Director at such a critical time in the response to HIV,” said Ms Byanyima. “The end of AIDS as a public health threat by 2030 is a goal that is within the world’s reach, but I do not underestimate the scale of the challenge ahead. Working with all its partners, UNAIDS must continue to speak up for the people left behind and champion human rights as the only way to end the epidemic.”

The United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, appointed Ms Byanyima as the UNAIDS Executive Director and United Nations Under-Secretary-General following a comprehensive selection process that involved a search committee constituted by members of the UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board. The UNAIDS Committee of Cosponsoring Organizations made the final recommendation on the appointment to the Secretary-General.

Ms Byanyima brings a wealth of experience and commitment in harnessing the power of governments, multilateral agencies, the private sector and civil society to end the AIDS epidemic around the world. Ms Byanyima has been the Executive Director of Oxfam International since 2013. Prior to that, she served for seven years as the Director of Gender and Development at the United Nations Development Programme.

Ms Byanyima began her career as a champion of marginalized communities and women 30 years ago as a member of parliament in the National Assembly of Uganda. In 2004, she became the Director of Women and Development at the African Union Commission, working on the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa, an international human rights instrument that became an important tool for reducing the disproportionate effect of HIV on the lives of women in Africa.

She holds an advanced degree in mechanical engineering (in energy conservation and the environment) from the Cranfield Institute of Technology and an undergraduate degree in aeronautical engineering from the University of Manchester.

The Secretary-General wishes to extend his appreciation and gratitude to the UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director, Management and Governance, Gunilla Carlsson, for her service as the Executive Director, a.i.