Castries:---HIV and AIDS outreach and advocacy forms the base upon which many organizations representing the concerns of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people in the Caribbean has been formed, and continues to be a major pillar of their work. Although the issue of human rights has become more visible for many of the organizations comprising the Eastern Caribbean Alliance for Diversity and Equality (ECADE), we use the occasion of World AIDS Day 2016 to reconfirm our commitment to working on HIV/AIDS in the region.
The member organizations of ECADE are rallying around the theme “HIV stigma: not retro, just wrong” this World AIDS Day, as we continue to focus on getting to zero by achieving the 90-90-90 target for HIV treatment and care. Organizations have for several weeks engaged in work promoting safer and accountable sexual practices in the eastern Caribbean as part of annual outreach efforts. We have also sought to highlight the need to show compassion and understanding and reduce stigma and discrimination as integral to lowering the number of new HIV cases and improving the quality of life of people living with HIV/AIDS.
Alliance members have extended our work to social media with the hashtag #HIVNotRetro. We urge the community to add your voice by using this hashtag, to bring a local and Caribbean context to the global conversation.
While many of our countries have reduced the resources invested in HIV/AIDS prevention and care, we take this opportunity to remind that HIV must remain a concern for our small-island states. According to an AIDS Impact Model, there were an estimated 4,022 cases of people living with HIV in Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines (OECS RCM). While evidence indicates that HIV incidence and AIDS deaths have stabilized in the last decade in the OECS and medical innovations such as Pre-Ex-
exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) provide hope, we continue to aim for a reduction in those statistics as our countries cannot afford the economic, social, and psychological cost of HIV/AIDS.
As we continue to encourage vigilance against stigma to improve the life-expectancy of people diagnosed with HIV and reduce the number of new case, we recognize the importance of the support of state systems, particularly the health authorities; civil society; faith-based organizations and community groups in reaching out with the message.