Aldean Williams from the Jamaica Network of Seropositives (JN+), was one of six (6) CVC scholarship recipients, sponsored to attend the AIDS 2022 global conference in Montreal Canada. The conference which ran from July 29 to August 2, 2022 was in its 24th staging.
Aldean says the CVC scholarship gave him a great opportunity to learn and network. “The CVC scholarship allowed me the privilege to engage with a global network of people who provide services to Persons Living with HIV (PLHIV). There were some meaningful perspectives that would be useful in the National HIV Response. Most importantly, the support from CVC gave me the opportunity to be at the conference face to face to co-facilitate a workshop,” he said.
During the 5-day conference, Aldean co-facilitated a workshop held on Saturday, July 30, 2022. The workshop was titled, ‘A case study from Jamaica on developing community-led monitoring tools to address HIV-related healthcare gaps, policy development’. The aim of the workshop was to strengthen community-led organizations to effectively hold states (government) accountable and collaborate with states by using the community-led monitoring (CLM) model, ensuring that states provide dignified HIV treatment, care, and support services, resulting in positive health outcomes for people living with HIV.
“The workshop also stressed the importance of precise data collection in HIV Health Policy development led by communities and strategic advocacy in countries plagued by high levels of HIV stigma and discrimination. The workshop allowed JN+ to garner strategic CLM approaches to address issues from persons living in different regions across the world,” Aldean added.
The CVC scholarship recipient described the experience as wholesome. “I appreciated the fact that the diverse populations were not afraid to share their own perspectives while learning from others. The conversations facilitated at the conference were also very necessary. One of the most memorable moments for me was the Canadian government being the first to declare that they are in full support of U=U and made a commitment to push the messaging of U=U in their HIV response. Another note is the importance of inclusivity of the community in the development of policies/programmes directly related to their health and/or healthcare services,” Aldean said.
As part of the workshop, JN+ facilitated, participants were placed in groups and asked to identify Community Led Monitoring strategies that could assist with bridging some of the gaps in the healthcare system. “There were some innovative CLM strategies that were identified, especially in relation to policies to protect PLHIV and access to healthcare. These strategies if implemented could allow for noticeable changes in the National HIV Response in Jamaica,” Aldean pointed out.