HIV and PrEP Implementation in the Bahamas Teamwork Makes the Dream Work by Dr. Alicia Webster

“Teamwork makes the dream work” is a common saying that at some point in our career we have all heard. In fact, I think most of us even try to use it to motivate ourselves to work and “play well” with others. This being said I must say that one of the things that impressed me the most with the Bahamian National Programme for HIV is seeing this concept come alive. In my experience working with HIV I have never seen persons working together so seamlessly. Every member of staff goes above and beyond to help their patients. It’s almost like you can ‘taste’ their passion, and trust me, that taste is on par with the best conch on the island.

As a pioneer for Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV in the Caribbean the Bahamas has paved the way for developing a strategy that could be emulated by other Caribbean countries. Starting PrEP in January 2019 they are still in the beginning stages of what is intended to be a second layer of prevention of HIV for their population especially for those who are at higher risk of HIV like MSM, Transgender and Serodiscordant Couples. So far in their programme they have developed guidelines to evaluate who is eligible for PrEP which include counselling & laboratory investigations. The driving force to their programme though not only for enrollment in PrEP but HIV treatment care and support is their staff and the cooperation with the various Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to not only test for HIV or treat positives but to also disseminate information on prevention of HIV using both condoms PrEP.

I have no doubt that with the level of dedication of the staff to go above and beyond the call of duty is what will ensure the success of PrEP in the Bahamas. Beyond the plans I have to steal (or should I say "strategically borrow") some of their nurses, I have to not only plan implementing PrEP based on adapting their guidelines to our population but also how do I get my staff motivated to tackle implementing this new prevention tool while still providing the same level of care and support. I think the first step is to stop at duty free and pick up some souvenirs to bring to the debriefing meeting following this trip but also to show them that if a smaller country can do it then WE CAN DO IT ! We may even be able to do it bigger, better, and bolder, "YAAD MAN STYLE".

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