June 8 Is National Caribbean-American HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
June 8 marks the annual National Caribbean-American
HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, a grassroots initiative aimed at mobilizing the Caribbean-American
community in the fight against AIDS. According
to the National Planning Committee, convened by the Caribbean People
International Collective, Inc., the day was established to encourage
Caribbean-American and Caribbean-born individuals across the United States to
get educated, get tested, get treated, and get involved.
UNAIDS reports that the Caribbean’s
HIV prevalence among adults is about one percent, which is higher than in all
other regions outside sub-Saharan Africa.
In the U.S., Caribbean-Americans and Caribbean immigrants are often
included under the umbrella group of African-Americans, which are the most
disproportionately impacted racial/ethnic group in the country according to the
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
National Caribbean-American HIV/AIDS
Awareness Day offers an opportunity for community groups, government agencies,
and healthcare providers to focus attention on Caribbean-Americans’
vulnerability to HIV and the obstacles they face living with the virus. One
such obstacle is homophobia, which remains a significant challenge in reducing
the spread and impact of HIV among men who have sex with men (MSM) throughout
the Caribbean diaspora.
amfAR’s MSM Initiative recently
hosted representatives from two of its Caribbean-based grantee organizations:
Luke Sinnette, president of Friends for Life in Trinidad and Tobago, and Eric
Castellanos, president of the Collaborative Network of Persons Living with HIV
in Belize. During presentations at Gay
Men’s Health Crisis and the United Nations, both men stressed the importance of
empowering local, grassroots organizations to educate and advocate on behalf of
individuals living with and affected by HIV in their own communities.
For more information on National
Caribbean-American HIV/AIDS Awareness Day events, click here.