Advocacy and Leadership

With the publication of Kelly and Bain’s book, Education and HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean, there was a clarion call for the education sector to play a greater role in HIV and AIDS prevention, intervention and care. To complement its messages and expand their delivery, EDC and the UNESCO Kingston Cluster Office for the Caribbean, created an Advocacy and Leadership Campaign. EDC/UNESCO trained people from different walks of lifephysicians, business leaders, parents, principals, television and media people and HIV+ persons—how to make convincing arguments to national level education leaders. The major messages were the need to mount a comprehensive approach and to involve HIV+ persons in from policy development to programme implementation.

In three countries (Trinidad and Tobago, St. Lucia and Belize), the trained advocates then spent a day with approximately 30-40 senior education leaders. They used the advocacy toolkit and fact sheets to convince policy makers of the need for their leadership and actions. The evaluation report of the workshops reported the commitment of ministry staff to take specific actions. Most importantly, the activities had an effect on people’s feelings of stigma and discrimination towards persons living with HIV and AIDS.  

One participant reported, “I realized that HIV/AIDS positive persons can live a wholesome life, full of confidence and behaving as normal.” 
 
In terms of future actions to combat stigma and discrimination—a significant barrier—participants commented that they would like people living with HIV and AIDS “to be advocates for greater tolerance and caring—as spokespersons in our schools.”