BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – THE Caribbean region is at a critical crossroad with regards to HIV/AIDS, as governments and civil society organisations face the daunting task of adapting their life-saving initiatives in an environment of reduced financing from development partners.
This is the belief of CARICOM General-Secretary, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque as today (Dec. 1) is being recognised as World Aids Day under the theme: “Communities make the difference.”'
This year, Ambassador LaRocque’s spotlight is on the importance of people-led organisations in combating the problem.
He believes that it is especially relevant to turn the spotlight on the people and services “which will truly make a difference in our race to end AIDS by 2030”.
The Secretary-General was referring to civil society leaders, community support groups, faith leaders, youth advocates, women and men’s groups and all those individuals who work at the grassroots level to reduce the prevalence of HIV in the region.
“These are the people that will make the difference as donor funding is reduced,” he said.
The Caribbean region is among the highest regions per number of people infected by the HIV/AIDS virus.
Recent data in St. Kitts pointed to over 200 persons currently living with the virus.
Ambassador LaRocque noted that there is no understating the value and importance of community-led organisations, pointing out that those bodies, networks and their expertise are anchored in their lived experiences, which determine their priorities.
“They are an intrinsic part of the global HIV response and a clear illustration of the value and leverage community-led organisations can bring to the cause of ending AIDS in our region,” expressed LaRocque.
He added: “These organisations shape our lives. And in the case of the HIV response, they are saving lives. Through PANCAP’s work, we have seen how civil society groups, including groups that represent women and youth, have led responses that include advocacy, campaigning and holding decision-makers to account; monitoring of policies, practices and service delivery; participatory research; education and information sharing; capacity building, and funding of community-led organisations, groups and networks.”