Tackling HIV and AIDS stigma and discrimination in the Caribbean
Image courtesy of UNAIDS
Working closely with the
Pan Caribbean Partnership Against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP),
DFID Caribbean has been developing a programme to make a lasting change in the
region to reduce the high levels of stigma and discrimination that affect those
living with HIV and AIDS.
In November 2005, PANCAP and DFID teamed up to stage "Champions for Change
II", in Guyana, especially designed to work closely with leaders of a wide
range of faith-based organisations throughout the Caribbean.
Over 100 senior leaders came together with people living with HIV and AIDS (PLWHAs) and AIDS
from 14 countries, resolving to work together more effectively to challenge
stigma and discrimination. In the past, these groups had tended to be very
critical of one another and had not found common ground on which to move
Voices from the Caribbean
Unlike in Africa, the major faith-based organisations in the Caribbean have
not yet been actively involved in prevention and care programmes, but leaders at
the Champions for Change event in 2005 (pictured) resolved that is going to change, having
heard at the conference speakers from Africa highlighting the crucial role the
faith-based organisations can, and must, play.
Here are some quotes from the region illustrating how stigma and
discrimination has a serious impact on people living with HIV and AIDS and their
- "If I speak out publicly on behalf of our group", said the
leader of a gay rights group, "I will certainly be beaten or worse,
and we don't put the office address on the web site, so that it is not
- The young schoolgirl cried as she spoke, "Why are my friends treating
me this way? What could I have done to stop my mother dying of AIDS? I miss
her so much and now I have nobody who will talk to me."
- An AIDS counsellor working in the region said: "The major constraint
is that those who come forward for voluntary counselling and testing, may
well find out the results of their test from the stares, gossip and tittle
tattle on the streets, rather than in confidential supportive
Image courtesy of IADB
PANCAP and DFID are also working to establish a regional coordination
unit to carry forward work in each country and establish training of trainers
programmes throughout the region, to complement the work that
individual "Champions for Change" events are doing in all the countries of
As one Minister of Health said recently:
"The money has been provided, yet people living with AIDS are simply not
coming forward for drugs and support!
"We must find a
way to be open and accepting, otherwise people living with HIV and AIDS will hide from the stigma and
discrimination, or be forced to migrate around the region. All of us have to
take action, to be Champions for Change, and not think that this is a problem
for other people."
- The Champions for Change programme started in November 2004, when DFID
development minister Gareth Thomas joined a wide
range of senior political leaders, sports and cultural icons to establish the
first Champions for Change event.
- There are 300,000 adults and children living with AIDS at December 2005. This translates into prevalence of 1.6%
across the region, which has been stable since 2003. It remains the region
with the second-highest prevalence rate after sub-Saharan Africa.
- DFID recognises that to achieve poverty reduction it needs to continue to
make progress on reducing the spread and impact of HIV and AIDS - see Regional
Assistance Plan for the Caribbean Plan (2004-2007)(637
- DFID's support to the Caribbean region is £3m (2004-2007).
World Service Trust: Caribbean HIV and AIDS radio spots (22 Aug 2005)
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