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PANCAP Employs Knowledge Management to Increase Education on Stigma and Discrimination at Caribbean Sex Work Coalition (CSWC) SWIT WorkshopStigma and Discrimination a major barrier to accessing HIV Prevention tools and education

October 20, 2016

GEORGETOWN GUYANA: The Pan Caribbean Partnership against HIV & AIDS, PANCAP, participated as a key stakeholder at the Caribbean Sex Work Coalition SWIT (Sex Worker Implementation Tool) Meeting held from October 16 to 20, 2016 in Georgetown, Guyana

The workshop is supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Global Network of Sex Work Projects (NSWP).

The PANCAP-Knowledge for Health (K4Health) project engaged over 20 participants of the CSWC Sex Worker Implementation Tool (SWIT) workshop in a ‘net-mapping’ activity to determine how stigma and discrimination affects their ability to advocate for human rights, access to HIV prevention and care, and HIV/AIDS education.

According to Sarah Fohl, Knowledge Management Advisor for the K4Health project, ‘net-mapping is a knowledge management tool that allows participants to determine the relationships, actors, barriers and opportunities within their communities that significantly affect their lives’.  The Knowledge Management Advisor further explained that the net-mapping exercise allowed participants to work together and identify barriers and opportunities to adequate access to condoms and education about safe sex and HIV/AIDS.

Knowledge Management Coordinator, K4Health, Dr. Shanti Singh-Anthony who also implemented the net mapping activity stated, ‘sex workers face a tremendous amount of discrimination because of their line of work.  It was important for the participants of the workshop to clearly identify what prevents them from gaining sufficient knowledge on HIV/AIDS as well as prevention tools so that advocates can identify solutions to remove these barriers with the aim of eliminating the spread of AIDS’.

According to Miriam Edwards, Co-chair and Coordinator of the Caribbean Sex Work Coalition (CSWC), ‘the exercise was vital for sex workers and leaders of sex worker-led groups to fully understand the importance of their role in reducing discrimination in order to consistently access HIV/AIDS prevention tools and education’.

The Co-Chair further explained that the net mapping activity complemented the goal of the workshop to educate participants on the Sex Worker Implementation Tool (SWIT) which offers practical guidance on effective HIV and STI programming for sex workers. It provides evidence on the importance of decriminalizing sex work, the involvement of sex workers in developing policy, and the empowerment and self-determination of sex working communities as a fundamental part of the fight against HIV.

The Co-chair concluded ‘the aim is for sex workers and leaders of the groups represented to propagate the messages and lessons learnt through the PANCAP – K4Health activity among their peers in their respective countries so that more sex workers are playing an active role in responding to stigma and discrimination barriers to HIV/Prevention tools and education’.

Timothy Austin
Communications Specialist
PANCAP Coordinating Unit | Knowledge for Health (K4Health)
CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen
Tel: (592) 222-0001-75, Extension 3409
Fax: (592) 222-0203

Editor’s Notes

The idea for the Caribbean Sex Work Coalition SWIT (Sex Worker Implementation Tool) workshop was generated after Leaders of the CSWC participated in the Global Fund SWIT workshop in October, 2015 in Ecuador as well as additional SWIT training activities earlier in 2015 organized by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

SWIT was created by the World Health Organization (WHO) and is based on WHO’s 2012 recommendations on HIV and Sex Work.

Following discussions at the CSWC’s last Regional Meeting, an agreement was formed by a consortium network of sex workers from NSWP (Global Network of Sex Work Projects) that increased awareness of SWIT is crucial to the development of sex workers in the Caribbean.  CSWC has received the support of NSWP through the Robert Carr Civil Society Networks Fund (RCNF) to convene this 5-day SWIT training in Guyana’.

Director of PANCAP, Dereck Springer, advocates for more attention on the issue of stigma and discrimination within the sex work environment.

‘It was imperative that PANCAP be a key part of this workshop since eliminating discrimination against sex workers is a key component of PANCAP’s Justice for All (JFA)’ initiative, stated the PANCAP Director, ‘the JFA advocates for the reduction of stigma and discrimination and the upholding of human rights with particular regard to the right to access HIV prevention, treatment and care’.

‘Ending AIDS requires an environment that is free of stigma and discrimination,’ stated the PANCAP Director, ‘key populations such as sex workers are more likely to receive education on HIV/AIDS, as well as prevention tools when there is no fear or being stigmatized.  I fully endorse the objective of the SWIT workshop.  Sex workers must be cognizant of their role in creating a stigma free environment as well as what actions are pivotal to eliminating the spread of HIV/AIDS in the sex work industry’.

The SWIT Workshop, which hosted participants from Guyana, Jamaica, Antigua, Suriname, Trinidad and the Bahamas, aims to provide effective training on the use and implementation of the SWIT with the objective of building the knowledge capacity of sex workers in reducing stigma and discrimination.