#endAidsCaribbean online campaign launched for World Aids Day

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Dr James Guwani, director Unaids Caribbean.

In commemoration of World Aids Day 2021, Unaids Caribbean has launched the social media campaign #endAIDSCaribbean. The campaign focuses on the theme, End inequalities. End Aids, and targets online audiences in the Dutch-, English-, French- and Spanish-speaking Caribbean.

The theme is taken from the 2021-2026 Global Aids Strategy. It is meant to increase awareness and buy-in for an approach focused on addressing discrimination, injustice and inequity. Together with the effective implementation of HIV prevention, treatment and best care practices, this people-centred strategy will get every country and community on track to eliminate Aids as a public health threat by 2030, as part of the sustainable development goal agenda, said a media release.

“Stigma and discrimination, the marginalisation and criminalisation of entire communities and a lack of access to healthcare, justice and other essential services continue to fuel the HIV epidemic in the region,” Unaids Caribbean director Dr James Guwani said in the release.

Among the groups particularly affected by these inequalities are people living with HIV, the key populations (gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM), sex workers, transgender people, people who use drugs and people in prison), at-risk children and youth, poor people, migrants, the homeless, women and other people who experience gender-based violence, the release said.

The campaign emphasises what individuals and communities can do to be more supportive of those living with, and affected by, HIV. It also points to legal and policy directions that would help the Caribbean create a more enabling environment for the Aids response.

The key messages are: build a more caring, respectful community, be kind to everyone, support people living with HIV, provide emotional and social support to those in need, strengthen community-led services, ensure social safety nets cover everyone, provide safe, comfortable healthcare for all, address people’s specific needs, ensure health services are confidential, ensure everyone has access to justice, remove laws that discriminate and create laws that protect.

The campaign includes an animated video, quizzes testing knowledge about HIV and covid19 vaccines, infographics and GIFs.

At the end of 2020 Unaids estimates that 18 per cent of people living with HIV in the Caribbean were unaware of their status. Of those who were diagnosed, almost one in five (18 per cent) did not start treatment. There are also challenges around retaining people in care so they achieve viral suppression. People’s experience and fear of prejudice, gossip, harassment and violence all contribute to lower treatment initiation and adherence rates, the release said.

“The Caribbean has testing, treatment and care services,” Guwani said. “What is needed is greater investments in community organisations that can help people navigate the process and a culture that treats everyone with respect, regardless of difference. Ending Aids is not just the business of health ministries. We need every person to play their part.”

To access and share content from the campaign please visit the Unaids Caribbean on Facebook and Twitter.