Faith-based leaders to tackle HIV/AIDS
January 12, 2020
Forty faith-based leaders and representatives of key populations from across the Caribbean will, between February 7 and 9, participate in a consultation on the Right to Health and Wellbeing for All in Paramaribo, Suriname.The forum is being hosted by the Pan Caribbean Partnership against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP).The consultation is the first of its kind in the Caribbean and is one of the 15 actionable recommendations stated in the Declaration of the PANCAP Consultation of Caribbean Religious Leaders held in Trinidad and Tobago, February 1-2, 2017.The objective, the Department of Public Information (DPI) reported, is to create an ideal space for faith leaders and key populations to discuss ways of collaborating to reduce AIDS-related stigma and discrimination. It is hoped too that there would be a respectful and productive dialogue between faith leaders and key populations including sex workers, the LGBT community, and other stakeholders.The consultation will also seek to establish a mechanism for enhancing partnerships between the key populations and religious groups; articulate clearly the major determinants of stigma and discrimination and the requirements for the Partnership to remove these barriers. The promotion of a viable legislative environment with regard to human rights, human sexuality, and human dignity will also engage the attention of participants.PANCAP is the mechanism that provides a structured and unified approach to the Caribbean’s response to the HIV epidemic, in collaboration with the Regional Consultative Steering Committee for the Implementation of Recommendations to end AIDS by 2030.According to the Caricom Secretariat, the three-day event will include highly interactive discussions on the gaps in the Treatment and Prevention of HIV with emphasis on access to data in order to address the prospects and requirements for achieving 90-90-90 targets by 2020; prevention gaps with special reference to public education and reducing stigma and discrimination faced by key populations.Chair of the Regional Consultative Steering Committee for the Implementation of Recommendations to end AIDS by 2030, Canon Garth Minott underscored the critical need for religious leaders and representatives of key populations to share testimonies of their experiences in working with each other. He explained that the purpose was to identify models of collaboration or partnership between the groups, which have positively benefited People living with HIV and reduced AIDS-related discrimination.The overarching purpose of the consultation is to create a regional partnership between religious leaders and key populations to advocate, lobby and monitor regional governments to ensure they adhere to all international agreements that protect the right to health.