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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
06BRIDGETOWN1780
2006-10-06 21:36:00
UNCLASSIFIED
Embassy Bridgetown
Cable title:  

BRIDGETOWN HOSTS SUCCESSFUL 2006 REGIONAL CHIEFS OF

Tags:   PREL  PGOV  EAID  TBIO  KHIV  BB  XL 
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R 062136Z OCT 06
FM AMEMBASSY BRIDGETOWN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3459
RUEAHLC/HOMELAND SECURITY CENTER WASHDC
INFO RUCNCOM/CARIB COLLECTIVE
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 1517
RUMIAAA/HQ USSOUTHCOM J2 MIAMI FL
RUMIAAA/HQ USSOUTHCOM J5 MIAMI FL
RUEHCV/USDAO CARACAS VE
						UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 BRIDGETOWN 001780 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR S/GAC, OES/IHA AND WHA/CAR
STATE PASS TO USAID
HHS FOR CDC-WSTEIGER
SOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV EAID TBIO KHIV BB XL
SUBJECT: BRIDGETOWN HOSTS SUCCESSFUL 2006 REGIONAL CHIEFS OF
MISSION CONFERENCE ON HIV/AIDS




1. On September 26-27, Embassy Bridgetown hosted the Fifth Regional
Chiefs of Mission Conference on HIV/AIDS. The conference brought
together U.S. ambassadors and officials from ten embassies, as well
as representatives from Washington and the Caribbean region. The
conference reviewed the progress made over the past five years, and
focused on strategies to sustain the momentum and overcome the
remaining challenges in the region.

RECENT PROGRESS


--------------------------





2. Conference participants from all sectors recognized the
significant progress achieved in the last five years in combating
HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean. The region and donors, both bilateral
and multilateral, have increased resources to support the region's
fight against HIV/AIDS. According to Ambassador Mark Dybul, the
Global AIDS Coordinator, the United States provided USD 250 million
in bilateral HIV/AIDS assistance to the Caribbean during the period
2004-2006. In addition, the United States remains the largest donor
to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria,
providing 30 percent of all contributions.



3. Improved regional cooperation in the fight against HIV/AIDS is
another factor in the region's progress. Both Barbados' Minister of
State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, the Hon.
Kerrie Symmonds and Carl Browne, Director of the Pan-Caribbean
Partnership Against HIV/AIDS (PANCAP), highlighted PANCAP as the
principal vehicle for regional coordination on HIV/AIDS. They noted
PANCAP's success in fostering cooperation, strengthening the
region's training and education focused on HIV/AIDS, and mobilizing
resources to support programs. In the last five years, PANCAP has
evolved into a pan-Caribbean coordinating mechanism with over 70
members from a variety of sectors. Other regions are now looking at
PANCAP as a possible model for their efforts.



4. In an overview of U.S. programs in the region, U.S. Ambassadors
and other participants described a number of innovative programs
designed to break down prejudices, reach wider audiences, and
provide assistance to the most vulnerable. Skits, song and verse
competitions, plays, radio dramas, walk-a-thons, quilt projects, and
billboard campaigns are only few of the projects our embassies have
supported through the Ambassador's Small Grants Program in an effort
to turn the tide against HIV/AIDS.

REMAINING CHALLENGES


--------------------------





5. While the region has made significant advances in the fight
against HIV/AIDS, the Caribbean continues to have the second highest
HIV/AIDS prevalence rate in the world, after sub-Saharan Africa. As

Minister Symmonds noted during his address, HIV/AIDS continues to
kill more than 100 people per day in the region. Other conference
participants painted a similarly grim picture: In Barbados,
HIV/AIDS is the leading cause of death for the 15 to 40 year-old age
group. In Jamaica, it is the second leading killer overall and the
leading cause of death for children aged 1 to 4. In Haiti, 14
HIV-positive children are born each day. HIV/AIDS has also created
a "tidal wave of orphans" around the world.



6. The devastating human costs of this disease also have broader
implications. Minister Symmonds called HIV/AIDS a national security
threat. Other conference participants noted the threat posed by
HIV/AIDS to the region's economies. The region's small, mainly
island-based economies are already more vulnerable to external
shocks such as natural disasters or changes in the global economic
outlook. HIV/AIDS further threatens to undermine their economic
stability by holding the potential of devastating their work forces.
Furthermore, with the region's increasing integration, borders have
become more porous and populations more mobile, making the
containment of HIV/AIDS increasingly difficult.



7. Another challenge that continues to plague the region is the
stigma and discrimination associated with HIV/AIDS. While awareness
of HIV/AIDS has risen throughout the Caribbean, stigmatization and
discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS continue to
hamper the region's efforts. For example, Brenda La Grange Johnson,
the U.S. Ambassador to Jamaica, noted that a recent survey of
Jamaican companies found that 13 percent of them would not hire
applicants infected by HIV. Dr. Carol Jacobs, Chairman of the
Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, provided
another startling statistic: 40 percent of Barbadians would be

BRIDGETOWN 00001780 002 OF 003


unwilling to tell their partner if they were infected with HIV, and
only 10 percent of Barbadians are willing to be tested.



8. Conference participants discussed several other challenges
hampering the region's efforts against HIV/AIDS, including the lack
of focus on prevention, inadequate infrastructure, brain drain, and
unreliable data. The lack of human resources and technical
capacity has also been manifest in the areas of crisis management
and strategic planning.

MAINTAINING THE MOMENTUM


--------------------------





9. All participants agreed that the key to continued progress
against HIV/AIDS was sustained public attention to this issue.
CDC's Dr. Lisa Fitzpatrick urged the Ambassadors and other mission
staff to work with her to ensure that the First Lady's proposal for
an International AIDS Testing Day becomes a reality and a success in
the region. A number of Ambassadors agreed to be publicly tested
and to seek high-level participation from the governments to which
they are accredited. Conference participants also agreed that
enhanced public diplomacy efforts should be coupled, where
appropriate, with quiet, behind-the-scenes advocacy and engagement
with local political leaders, NGOs, and the private sector. Another
new resource in the area of public affairs is the Caribbean
Broadcast Media Partnership on HIV/AIDS, which was launched in May


2006. The Partnership's Chairman, Dr. Allyson Leacock, reported on
the organization's goals and commitments, including member
broadcasters' current commitment to program as much as 30 seconds
per hour of free HIV/AIDS-related messaging. Dr. Leacock also
discussed a number of innovative approaches for raising awareness
among wider audiences, especially youth, by working with DJ's and
celebrities, using "product-placement" strategies, and embedding
HIV/AIDS-related messages in video games.



10. Improving coordination among governments, donors, NGOs, and the
private sector will continue to be important. With increasing labor
mobility and 40 million tourists visiting the region every year, the
Caribbean must continue its efforts to pool resources and harmonize
information. As the region prepares for the Cricket World Cup,
which will take place in March and April 2007, this coordination
will become even more critical. To assist the region in its
coordination efforts, the participants discussed creating matrices
summarizing available resources, including human resources,
throughout the region. Other suggestions included involving
universities, specifically law schools and public health schools, in
pursuing technical, legal, and statistical research and thus
overcoming the governments' lack of qualified personnel. To
maximize the USG's "bang for the buck" and avoid duplication, U.S.
missions could catalogue the resources developed through U.S.
government funding, such as radio dramas, plays, and commercials,
and share them across the region. Creating a chatroom and/or a
listserv may also foster greater coordination of U.S. strategies and
resources.



11. Another area where U.S. Ambassadors and missions can play an
important role is in seeking high-level engagement from Caribbean
governments on HIV/AIDS issues. Conference participants agreed that
overcoming the discrimination and stigma associated with HIV/AIDS
must start with the countries' leaders, who can set an example and
include awareness programs in legislation and education. In this
regard, Dr. Jacobs applauded the initiative of Barbados' Prime
Minister Owen Arthur, who moved the HIV/AIDS portfolio from the
Ministry of Health to his office to ensure that HIV/AIDS work
received central focus from his government. In addition, he tasked
each ministry with establishing an HIV/AIDS sectoral plan to ensure
that the fight against HIV/AIDS was a priority for the entire
government of Barbados.

TOWARD 2010 AND BEYOND


--------------------------





12. While the challenge of HIV/AIDS remains daunting, the
discussions during the conference showed that the efforts of the
region, the United States and other donors, as well as the NGOs and
the private sector, have already yielded positive results over the
past five years. As we look toward 2010 and beyond, the U.S.
ambassadors and their missions in the Caribbean should seek to lock
in these gains, move beyond pilot projects toward sustainable and
sustained programs, and continue on the path of progress.


BRIDGETOWN 00001780 003 OF 003


GILROY