As the representative of a Civil Society Organizantion providing services to key populations in Jamaica, the coordinated involvement of the twenty Civil Society Organizations in the HIV response in the Bahamas was eye opening. Each organization holds a specific defined role within the response, and the integration of these services is the foundation for an effective programme.
Along with good buy in from high level partners, a focus on youth prevention and education, and a comprehensive treatment, care and support programme, CSO partnership is an integral part of the action framework for HIV/AIDS directed by HIV Program and HIV/AIDS strategic plan.
Here are just a few of the CSO Partners and how they specifically fit into the response.
• Broadcasting Commission along with NAP and the Ministry of Education has been giving a 30 min radio public education programme twice weekly for several years (sharing critical information and accurate information)
• Care 2 for 2 has a “mother/brother” peer support programme that assists with linking key populations to care, walking clients through the system and staying with clients through the process, providing social support, adherence support and a safe space programme.
• The Empowerment Group addresses issues with children and women and provides support to some of the most at risk populations
• SASH (Society against stigmatization and hate for HIV and AIDS) Bahamas, addresses issues with MSMs. They provide advocacy for the MSM community looking at the services provided to the population.
• BNN+ (Bahamas National Network for Seropositives) assists with safe space creation for the most at risk populations
• UCTRANS (United Caribbean TRANS) uses community transgender leaders as peer navigators, providing health care advice and support
• Demarco foundation provides advocacy and a community voice to encourage and introduce the community to PrEP, and consultation with government stakeholders. They help to prepare clients with advocacy and education prior to referring clients for PrEP.
• Samaritan Ministry (Religious Organization) is a community of volunteers disseminating accurate information and providing support services while working within the NAP protocols
As Jamaica moves to adopt Pre Exposure Prophylaxis as part of its prevention programme, Jamaican CSOs will need to work closely with the HIV programme, specifically the Prevention unit. Everyone will have a role to play, from ongoing public education to the introduction to the education and navigation of eligible clients to ensure that this effective programme can have maximum effect as part of our comprehensive prevention programme. There is more than enough work to go around, so let us each take a piece and run wid it, straight to the finish line.