New York- United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Global Fund have signed a new US$7 million grant to address human rights barriers to HIV services in eight Caribbean countries – Belize, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago. The funds will focus on promoting and protecting human rights and access to HIV services for key populations such as men who have sex with men, transgender people, sex workers, marginalized young people and those using drugs, all of whom often bear the highest burden of HIV infection in the region.
Despite significant advances to address the HIV epidemic in Caribbean and following which new infections decreased by 49% between 2001 and 2012, the situation has not changed much. Discriminatory laws, policies and attitudes continue to prevent many at-risk populations from accessing HIV prevention, testing and treatment services. In Caribbean countries where homosexuality is criminalised, almost 1 in 4 men who have sex with men is HIV-positive, compared to 1 in 15, in countries where it is not.
“There is an inherent contradiction between the good care some Governments provide through accessible HIV services and the possibility that existing legislation could lead to prosecution when one accesses those services. In the midst of a culture of care, a culture of fear becomes a reality for key populations in the Caribbean. Only by removing human rights barriers to make services accessible for at-risk populations can we hope to prevent and control HIV,” said Magdy-Martínez-Solimán, UN Assistant Secretary General and Policy Chief of UNDP.
“This grant will be critical to the Caribbean’s HIV response. It will also help reduce inequalities and significantly contribute to achieving a number of the Sustainable Development Goals,” Martínez-Solimán further added.
While the regional HIV prevalence rate is 1%, this figure is drastically on the rise, among the key populations who continue to be disproportionately affected. WHO estimates that between 40% and 50% of all new HIV infections among adults worldwide, may occur from among the very disproportionately affected key populations and their immediate partners.
The grant will be implemented by UNDP in close collaboration with the two leading civil society organizations – Caribbean Vulnerable Communities (CVC) based in Jamaica and Centro de Orientación e Investigación Integral (COIN) based in the Dominican Republic. The grant will be effective from 1 October 2016 - 30 September 2019, and will help to scale up HIV services for key populations. Moving forward, legal environment assessments will be carried out as necessary to propose steps for removing human rights barriers and strengthening the legal and policy environment needed for an effective HIV response in the Caribbean. Besides legal aid services, health workers and police will be trained to reduce stigma and discrimination. A human rights observatory will also be established to document and seek redress for human rights violations.
In New York: Sangita Khadka, Communications Specialist | UNDP Bureau for Policy and Programme Support | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Tel: +1 212 906 5043
In Geneva: Sarah Bel, Communication Specialist | Email: email@example.com | Tel: +41229178544