Social marketing for HIV/AIDS prevention and reproductive health, the Caribbean

At the end of 2010, an estimated 200,000 people were living with HIV in the Caribbean. Poverty and inequality in the region exacerbate the situation, with the poorest in society being the most at risk of HIV infection, and the least informed about both services about prevention. Use of modern contraception is quite high in many Caribbean countries, but there are also high rates of teen pregnancy. In Jamaica, 40 per cent of all women have had at least one child by their 20th birthday. Recent rises in cases of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) is one factor that contributes to the transmission of HIV.

We managed a regional social marketing project in the Caribbean (CARISMA), funded by German Financial Cooperation (KfW). Innovative social marketing approaches – using commercial marketing techniques to achieve public health objectives – were employed to create and expand a vibrant total market for contraceptives. The goal of CARISMA was to improve sexual and reproductive health (SRH) across the population, and to reduce STI and HIV infection rates in selected countries of the Caribbean region.

CARISMA funded social marketing activities in Belize, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, Suriname and also ten Eastern Caribbean States. We worked mainly with three groups who are most at risk: youth, commercial sex workers and men at risk – with a particular focus on men who have sex with men, as well as migrant populations in the Bateyes of the Dominican Republic. We supported social marketing operations, contracting local NGOs to implement activities. We established meetings to coordinate and share knowledge across the region, and hosted a social marketing knowledge fair at the Caribbean HIV Conference. We gathered data to provide social marketers with vital information to make programme decisions. We also managed anti-stigma and discrimination campaigns and implemented family planning activities to promote better SRH.

Examples of campaigns under CARISMA include:

  • In the Eastern Caribbean, an innovative behaviour change campaign – Got it? Get it. – targeted the most high-risk sexually active sector of the population with a mass media campaign for TV, radio and print media, highlighting the risks of having sex without using a condom.
  • Following its success in the Eastern Caribbean, the Got It? Get It. campaign was replicated in Belize. In the Dominican Republic, a mini soap opera-series, Amor de Batey, aimed at marginalised migrant populations (mainly Haitian), was aired on a national TV station, to highlight risky sexual behaviour that can lead to HIV and to promote consistent condom use.

During the project, Haiti was hit by the devastating earthquake of January 2010. This altered the course of the project, and an emergency programme was established to try to prevent infectious diseases in camps set up for internally displaced Haitians. We delivered substantial quantities of hygiene and malaria-prevention commodities, and helped respond to subsequent cholera outbreaks.

Project achievements:

  • 65.6 million supported commercial and social marketing condom sales have been made
  • Outreach and behaviour change communication activities directly reached: 30,000 commercial sex workers, 65,000 youth at risk, and 44,000 men at risk
  • CARISMA enabled 10,000 at-risk individuals to access free SRH services at International Planned Parenthood Federation-affiliated clinics.


65.6 million supported commercial and social marketing condom sales 

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