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Tuesday, April 11, 2006 

Private sector being targeted in HIV/AIDS programme
Web Posted - Tue Apr 11 2006

A project designed to strengthen the role of the private sector in response to HIV/AIDS, with the view of developing best practice models that can be used throughout the Caribbean in various sectors has been launched in Barbados.

The project entitled ''Accelerating the Private Sector Response to HIV and AIDS in the Caribbean: Barbados and Jamaica" will be launched in Jamaica later this month. Over the next nine months it will seek to gather the information needed to design the Barbados implementation plan says project manager, Claudette Francis.

She was speaking yesterday morning at Sherbourne Conference Centre at the launch of the Country Start-up Meeting for the project.

According to Francis, there will be commonalities between Barbados and Jamaica that they want to identify that will make the project one that they can promote to other Caribbean territories that have a tourism base to their economy.

The project is expected to produce responsible tourism models that encompass HIV/AIDS, effective co-ordination between the private sector, people living with HIV and AIDS and other vulnerable groups who are in support of national HIV/AIDS programmes as well as strengthen the institutional capacity of the private sector so as to implement appropriate AIDS prevention and support programmes.

Over the nine-month period, the project manager said Associates for international Development (AID) Inc. will be convening consultations and doing needs assessments with specific communities and business organisations within those communities, after that she said there will be a major consultation where they will sit down over a three-day period to design the implementation phase.

The information gathering will take the form of community town hall meetings in the four sites identified Holetown/Speights-town, Paynes Bay/Fitts Village, St. Lawrence Gap and the surrounding areas and Silver Sands and the surrounding areas. Stakeholders are encouraged to come out.

Francis explained that the project came out of a Price Water-house Coopers survey that was done two and a half years ago, where it was noted that the national responses were doing well where Government had interventions, but not in the private sector.

They found that in the private sector the actions were not co-ordinated or sustained so that there were companies that had some information or education going on, but having a sustained programme, that did not exists. The results were reviewed by high level policymakers [and] they recommended an intervention be made at a place in the economy that would impact on the epidemic as well as stigma and discrimination, she indicated.

As a result, she explained the tourism sector was chosen as it is labour intensive and a lot of young people particularly between the ages of 18 to 35 are employed in this sector

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