The high rates of HIV infection along with the large percentage of men enrolled in HIV treatment and care in Saint Lucia and other OECS islands, have certainly been a concern for United and Strong Inc (Saint Lucia) and DomCHAP out of Dominica.
These two partners believe that the absence of an enabling and supportive environment often drives key populations such as members of the GBT community underground. This translate into a disconnect from social support and other important resources that could help improve their general health opportunities and quality of life. This ultimately formed the basis for this inaugural Caribbean Men’s Dialogue 2016, taking place in Roseau Dominica from April 18-21st 2016.
With varying levels of resources available for HIV and AIDS programming and health system capacity across the different countries in the Caribbean, the region faces an array of challenges to not only sustain but to scale up their national HIV and AIDS responses. The challenge implied by a 90-90-90 scale up scenario, as well as decreasing funding levels and/or shifts in funding priorities among international donors, requires countries, and the region as a whole to carefully examine programmatic priorities to determine the most efficient way to achieve impact.
In light of such the Caribbean Men’s Dialogue will endeavor to:
- Create a forum for in depth dialogue on sexual diversity, health and human rights issues.
- Identify strategies to help surmount the main challenges of key population advocacy in the OECS.
- Strengthen Regional key population groups and individuals partnerships and collaboration towards stronger regional key population networks, thereby contributing a more valuable voice to the global effort.
- Examine strategies for engaging other sectors and movement with a view to informing a more positive narrative. Engaging the media is one area that may prove useful and it may be interesting to hear the view of the participants in this regards.
- Scale up HIV prevention and treatment strategies for key population within the OECS, and convene dialogue on the status of key population behavioral health and promotion in the OECS territories.
Dr. Stephen King from Saint Lucia is set to be the keynote speaker on the human rights issues of GBT persons within an HIV context, at this inaugural meeting of men from the French and English speaking Caribbean region. This will be followed by a number of panel discussions, presentations and working sessions by various regional and international partners over the next four days. Helping to meet the expected outcomes, organisations such as Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC), Men Who Have Sex With Men Global Forum (MSMGF), UNAIDS Caribbean, OutRight Action International , OPEN SOCIETY FOUNDATIONS, Premiere association franciase de lutte contre VIH/sida et les hepatites, African Men For Sexual Health and Rights AMSHeR and MiRiDOM will be engaging participants at the various forums.
In addition to the development of a strategic plan to enhance interventions among GBT men within the OECS on the heels of the OECS GFATM Project , participants hope to get consensus on a Caribbean Men’s declaration position paper to be presented by its representatives at the UNAIDS 2016 High-Level Meeting on Ending AIDS taking place in New York from June 8-10 2016.
United and Strong Inc and DomCHAP looks forward to this dialogue helping in the transformation of our region within the context of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).