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Sunday, April 23, 2006 

Caribbean Red Cross to develop HIV/AIDS action plan

Monday, April 24, 2006

by Kishawn Thomas

Caribbean Net News Grenada Correspondent

Email: kishawn@caribbeannetnews.com

ST GEORGE’S, Grenada: The Caribbean Red Cross HIV/AIDS Network (CARAN) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (International Federation) is currently meeting in Panama City, Panama to begin development of a four year strategic plan for HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean. The theme of the meeting is “Strategic Positioning for 2010.”

The latest findings on HIV/AIDS as published in the "AIDS Epidemic Update 2005", the annual report by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), show that whilst there is new evidence that adult HIV infection rates have decreased in certain countries the overall trends in HIV transmission were still increasing. One of their key conclusions is that far greater HIV prevention efforts are needed to slow the epidemic.This will be the first time in its six year history that the Network’s meeting will be held outside of the region. Previous meetings have been held in Jamaica (2004), Trinidad (2003) and the Dominican Republic (2002). CARAN was established in 2000.

In addition to the development of a strategic plan, CARAN will also discuss new partnerships, current and upcoming HIV/AIDS campaigns, regional successes and challenges and the progress of its youth-oriented “Together We Can” (TWC) peer-to-peer programme. A new CARAN executive will also be elected at the end of the meeting. The majority of Red Cross National Societies and Overseas Branches (NS/OSB) in the Caribbean will be represented at the meeting.

Since the last CARAN Meeting in Jamaica, CARAN’s membership has scaled-up considerably in HIV/AIDS programming. In the past they focused almost entirely on the vitally important areas of youth peer education and anti-stigma and anti-discrimination. However they are now broadening their approach to include highly successful social marketing and social mobilization campaigns that reach many more people with key HIV/AIDS messages. Mr John Flemming, Regional Health Delegate with the International Federation said this meeting is very important since it defines Caribbean Red Cross activities in HIV/AIDS for the next four years.

He said the NS/OSB in the Caribbean have greatly increased their capacity to deliver high quality HIV/AIDS interventions over the past six years and they look forward to putting a framework in place that will increase their capacity until 2010 and beyond.

The Red Cross movement is ideally positioned to play a key role in this focus on scaling up prevention activities in the Caribbean and throughout the world through with its global membership of 183 National Societies.The meeting will end on Wednesday April 26.

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