Epidemiologic studies and surveillance data show that vulnerable groups such as Sex Workers, Men who have Sex with Men, Marginalized Youth, Drug Users, and Prisoners should be a focus of national HIV prevention efforts in the Caribbean. In reality there has been minimal focus on the needs of these populations and an absence of sound strategies aimed at preventing HIV infections among them. These populations experience a range of unique challenges which make them vulnerable to HIV including social exclusion, human rights abuses, gender inequality, violence, poverty, language differences, and colonial legal frameworks that criminalise their behaviours.
The Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC) and El Centro de Orientación e Investigación Integral (COIN) are the sub-recipients of the Vulnerable Groups Component of the PANCAP Round 9 Regional Global Fund Project, a 5-year project which has sought to develop model programming for preventing HIV among vulnerable groups in Trinidad, Jamaica Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Guyana and Suriname.
The CVC/COIN Vulnerable Group Project seeks to achieve two lasting impacts:
1. Increased access to services among vulnerable groups.
2. Lower sero-prevalence among vulnerable groups.
“BUILDING ON WHAT WORKS: REPLICATING MODEL PROGRAMMING AND ADVOCACY INTERVENTIONS AND DEEPENING CARIBBEAN COMMUNITY SYSTEM STRENGTHENING (2014-2015)”
Funded by MACAIDS
This project focuses on prevention interventions among hard-to-reach sub-cultures and sub-populations such as non-identifying gay men, people engaged in transactional sex, migrant, street-based, or transgender sex workers, people who inject drugs or use crack, and youth engaged in sex work, gangs, and/or selling drugs, and transgender, MSM or HIV positive youth and persons vulnerable to Gender Based Violence (GBV).
The project seeks to achieve the following outcomes:
Increased access for key populations to a minimum package of prevention services [Minimum package of services is defined as: (1) Information, education and materials for HIV and STI prevention, such educational materials, talks, condoms, lubricants, condom demonstrations and (2) Referral to HIV testing or referral to other services such as support groups, low threshold service centres, basic needs help, primary healthcare, legal service etc.
The MAC AIDS Fund was set up by the MAC Makeup company in 1994 and generates funds from 100% of the sales from its Viva Glam lipstick and lipgloss products around the world. The Fund’s mission is to serve people of all ages, races and sexes affected by HIV and AIDS, and to partner with those who confront the epidemic in countries and communities where people are most neglected, off the radar and at highest risk.
Funding through MAC AIDS expands CVC’s onward granting approach in the region which facilitates the documentation of successful model programmes and good practices which target key populations. The MACAIDS Grant supports the following projects.
The Robert Carr civil society Networks Fund (RCNF) supports international networks that address the needs and human rights of inadequately served populations (ISP). These are key and other populations that face a higher HIV risk, mortality and/or morbidity when compared to the general population. At the same time they have less access to information and services. RCNF focusses on civil society networks because they are best capable of reaching the people who are most affected by the HIV epidemic.
The CVC is greatly assisted by the RCNF to realize its mandate to, among other things, facilitate sustained, coordinated and consistent mobilization and advocacy, driven by vulnerable groups and, potentially, leading to the kind of structural change that is required for addressing a concentrated HIV epidemic.
By supporting the remuneration of a highly competent team, the RCNF enables target populations to have access to appropriate technical assistance and assures the Coalition of effective representation in key forums and decision-making spaces.
Most importantly, the RCNF provides much needed, well placed support for vulnerable groups’ advocacy, communications and community mobilization so important for their visibility and voice; their participation in decisions impacting their lives and their ability to foster an enabling environment for the attainment of their rights and their freedom from stigma and discrimination.
JFLAG’s “We Are Jamaicans”/ “Stand Up” social media campaign were funded by CVC/COIN with the RCNF supporting the completion of campaign videos. The campaigns make Jamaican LGBTI persons and families visible, give them a voice and seek to change hearts and minds about LGBTI rights, discrimination and violence.
The Caribbean Sex Work Coalition campaign which has included a regional meeting held in Montego Bay Jamaica and support for national actions in Suriname, Guyana, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic. Country-level activities have included training of sex workers, police officers and Parliamentarians on needed policy changes etc.
CariFLAGS supported campaigns of local affiliates aimed at strengthening alliances with domestic and regional trade union bodies, companies doing business in the Caribbean, disability rights communities and/or HIV advocates to enact national policy that addresses workplace issues in particular employment discrimination. In addition to strategic meetings with worker organizations the campaign has, among other things, facilitated research, development of a sensitization module and related materials on labour, sexual and bodily rights and engaging labour movement champions.
Approximately 50 vulnerable youth from the Dominican Republic and Haiti benefited from training carried out by the YouWorld campaign. They are expected to unveil their message at the PANCAP Annual General Meeting in November 2014.