By Vidyaratha Kissoon, CVC Media Volunteer, AIDS 2010. CVC is an AIDS 2010 Organizing Partner.
The Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC) endorses the theme Rights Here, Right Now for AIDS 2010.
CVC is a coalition of community leaders and non-governmental agencies providing services directly to and on behalf of Caribbean populations who are especially vulnerable to HIV infection or often forgotten in access to treatment and healthcare programmes. These groups include:
- men who have sex with men
- sex workers
- people who use drugs
- orphans and other children made vulnerable by HIV
- migrant populations
- youth in especially difficult circumstances.
|Youth in Toco, Trinidad. Credit: UNAIDS/B. Press.
The membership is drawn from the Caribbean and includes people and organizations who work in Antigua, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Curaçao, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, the French Caribbean, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.
CVC's participation in AIDS 2010 is critical to the objective of generating an enabling environment to support human rights and improve the quality of life of vulnerable populations.
At the launch of CVC's Campaign to Vienna in October 2009, CVC Co-Chairperson Marcus Day encouraged members to participate in AIDS 2010, saying “The AIDS conference presents a brilliant opportunity for us to showcase the work that the Caribbean does in addressing the issues of vulnerable populations in a less than ideal political and social environment”.
The work being done in this “less than ideal political and social environment” is what CVC members would like to share with the world at AIDS 2010 through the main conference and participation in Caribbean Regional activities that will run concurrent with the conference.
CVC participated in developing the Caribbean Regional Strategic Framework on HIV and AIDS – 2008 to 2012 (pdf), which recognises six priority areas for action. These are:
- An enabling environment that fosters universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care, and support services
- An expanded and coordinated multisectoral response to the HIV epidemic
- Prevention of HIV transmission
- Treatment, care, and support
- Capacity development for HIV/AIDS services
- Monitoring, evaluation, and research
The AIDS 2010 theme Rights Here, Right Now brings the focus of the AIDS gathering to the human rights environment, which is necessary for the first priority action for the Caribbean and one in which there are still strides to be made.
CVC members are further concerned that there has been a shift away from rights-based programming for HIV/AIDS in the region.
CVC partner organisations have been conducting important advocacy work to emphasise human rights. In Guyana, the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) has launched a constitutional challenge against the Cross Dressing laws. SASOD, in collaboration with the Sexuality Rights Initiative, also made a submission to the 8th UPR (pdf), and the Government of Guyana is expected to respond on the measures it will take to ensure the rights of its LGBT citizens. In Jamaica, the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays coordinated a Stand against Silence and a March for Tolerance, both events held with civil society organisations. The United Belize Advocacy Movement continues to highlight human rights violations and to press for redress when necessary.
CVC's priorities at AIDS 2010 are to highlight and advocate that:
- adequate attention is paid to the needs of vulnerable communities in Haiti, which was devastated by an earthquake in January 2010
- states of the English-speaking Caribbean repeal all legislation criminalizing relationships between same-sex consenting adults, which limit the free development of their personalities
- Caribbean states introduce legislation to protect, guarantee and promote equality of individuals regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity and expression
- violence against sex workers, including migrant sex workers, is recognised as a form of gender-based violence because most of the sex workers who experience violence from the state and private individuals are women or male-to-female transgenders.
|CVC Montego Bay Workshop, November 2009.
CVC members expect that at AIDS 2010 there will be greater Caribbean participation than at previous International AIDS Conferences, especially by those from vulnerable populations. The experience of networking through the Global Village is expected to be quite positive and CVC members also believe that encounters with donors and multilateral agencies will highlight the need for rights-based programming in the region. In addition, CVC members expect that AIDS 2010 delegates will agree that poverty-alleviation programmes and strategies are necessary to reduce the vulnerabilities of the communities represented in CVC.