Regional HIV Consultation identifies steps to eliminate stigma and discrimination

Basseterre, St. Kitts (CUOPM) – About 15 actionable recommendations aimed at ending HIV-related stigma and discrimination in the Caribbean over the next three to five years have been documented after two days of dialogue with more than 75 delegates, representing Caribbean countries, regional institutions and development partners of the Pan Caribbean Partnership against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP).

The regional dialogue benefited from the charge of commitments by both Prime Ministers, the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas of St. Kitts and Nevis and the Most Hon. Portia Simpson-Miller of Jamaica to combat HIV and AIDS as a priority of global health within the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

The meeting in Kingston, the Jamaica capital, agreed on key elements of a Declaration to be presented to Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Heads of Government and other Caribbean leaders for their endorsement.

“These include eliminating mother-to-child transmission of HIV; strengthening laws to drastically reduce domestic violence; enacting overarching anti-discrimination legislation and amending the equal opportunity acts; prohibiting discrimination in employment practices including HIV status, disability and sexual orientation by 2015,” a statement issued by the CARICOM Secretariat in Guyana said.

The recommendations also included other areas intended to be achieved between 2015 and 2018. Among them are: developing standardized modules for delivery of HIV and AIDS education support such as the theatre and other forms of edutainment; developing social programmes for Persons Living With HIV/AIDS (PLHA) and the disabled; accelerating the process of evidence- based policies through research and training; repealing laws that criminalize sexual acts in private between consenting male and female adults; and ensuring that there are provisions for criminalizing sexual acts  with the use of force and with minors.

The regional consultation was preceded by a series of national consultations and clusters of parliamentarians, faith leaders, youth, the private sector and civil society.

Commenting on the process, Prime Minister Douglas said that the Justice for All Programme has started a movement for equality and social justice as the only way to bring about an end to AIDS.

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