Tackling HIV/AIDS in the UK Overseas Territories, Caribbean and the South Atlantic
In the UK overseas territories of the Caribbean and South Atlantic, Options managed the DFID-funded programme of support to the national AIDS programmes from 2008–2012. The programme provided support in ten countries to strengthen their capacity to support the planning and management of interventions and responses to take action against HIV and AIDS. Options worked closely with the National AIDS Programmes in all project countries, with the goal of reducing STI and HIV infection rates and improving the quality of life of those already infected with HIV.
In the Caribbean where HIV prevalence is the highest in the world after sub-Saharan Africa, the programme operated in Bermuda, Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Montserrat, and the Turks and Caicos Islands. Generalised epidemics exist in several Caribbean states and governments struggle to provide care, treatment and support to people living with HIV. UK Overseas Territories do not qualify for direct support from some of the regional initiatives to support National AIDS Programmes offered through the Pan Caribbean Partnership (PANCAP). Yet, all National AIDS Programmes express a need for financial, technical and managerial support. This project helped to address this gap.
In the South Atlantic, the programme operated in St. Helena, Ascension Island, Tristan da Cunha, and the Falkland Islands – where populations are small and HIV has not yet reached epidemic levels. In these countries, the project focused on preventing an HIV epidemic and establishing systems to deal with infections as and when they may arise.
Project interventions focused on several key strategic areas:
- Supporting the development and implementation of community programmes reaching priority most-at-risk populations (including men who have sex with men, young people, and Creole-speaking immigrants)
- Supporting tourism establishments to adopt HIV policies and programmes in the workplace (Caribbean only)
- Improving the quality of sex and reproductive health education in secondary schools
- Developing national legislation/policies addressing HIV related stigma and discrimination.