August 23, 2011
Phase two of CHAA project launched

The second phase of the Caribbean HIV/AIDS Alliance (CHAA) Action Project was officially launched here last Friday, August 19.{{more}}

This new project is expected to enable the strengthening and expansion of programmes and is expected to integrate lessons learnt from phase one while incorporating cross-cutting themes such as gender, stigma and discrimination. The use of strategic information and capacity building are also included.

The project is also expected to continue its education across the most at-risk populations, hardest to reach and most stigmatized communities, while finding innovative responses to infected populations across the region, Basil Williams, CHAA’s Executive Director explained.

According to Williams, the region has the second highest rate of infection in the world behind Sub-Saharan Africa.

“The overall prevalence is established at 1.1 percent and national infections are significant,” he said.

In 2008 Williams said that the number of infected persons living with HIV/AIDS in the region was 240,000 and the numbers are expected to grow in the next five years.

There is a higher rate among the male population, although the proportion of females is beginning to increase.

Williams continued saying that the prevalent rate among young people between 15 and 24 ranges anything between 3.2 and 4.2 percent; and with these rates of infection, it was anticipated that the Heads of Governments across the region will face great challenges in trying to provide treatment and care for infected individuals.

Bearing this in mind, Williams explained that the work of CHAA will create a working model of support and prevention.

“Our work will adopt a strong community development perspective; a community-based approach, working with people,” he explained.

Minister of Health Cecil McKie, in his presentation, said that it was going to be impossible for individual groups or persons to deal with the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the region.

He stressed the importance of effective partnerships.

McKie pledged continued support of his Ministry to the project, adding that the work of enhancing the existing facilities was about to begin.

“We are prepared and ready to work with CHAA,” the Minister of Health said.

He continued, saying that the project was a very important one and that his ministry had committed itself to working with the project’s organizers.

Angela Davis, USAID Agreement Officer’s Technical Representative said that HIV prevention was critical as the cost of treatment was not something that the region was able to sustain.

“When individuals become infected they go on treatment for life,” she explained.

Davis added that the hope was to provide targetted, technical assistance through the already set up agencies, organizations and institutions to reduce HIV/AIDS.

“The only thing we can do is build capacity, which means working with persons to ensure that civil society partners are involved.”

The work has been going on here for some time now, Davis pointed out, but there is still a lot more work to be done.