Fighting stigma

Governments and international aid organizations are focused on reducing prejudice against those affected by the disease and encouraging those who suspect they have it to get tested and seek medicine.

Among the most recent campaigns:

The Health Ministry of Jamaica launched "Getting on with Life," a campaign featuring two HIV-positive Jamaicans who speak about living with HIV and braving discrimination.

Throughout the Caribbean, a $1 million program will train broadcasters and journalists to improve reporting on the disease. It is the region's first media-led initiative to combat prejudice and was launched because the disease is labeled underclass, dirty and sexual. The campaign was announced in August by the Kaiser Family Foundation with the Ford Foundation and the Elton John AIDS Foundation.

In Guyana, the Pan Caribbean Partnership Against HIV and AIDS is mobilizing faith-based organizations to help combat stigma through a program called "Champions for Change II."

In 2005, the Caribbean broadcast of BBC World Service radio began carrying HIV/AIDS health information spots. Produced by the BBC World Service Trust, Viacom and the Kaiser Family Foundation, these spots are designed to combat stigma, promote responsible sexual behavior and reduce the number of new infections.

The Caribbean Regional Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS is one of the primary organizations fighting stigma in the region. It includes groups such as POZ in Haiti, which has pushed HIV openness. CRN+ , as the regional group is known, advocates for better treatment, seeks a voice in new policies and campaigns for greater rights for the infected in housing, education and medical care.

The few orphanages that accept HIV-infected children in the Caribbean regularly host visits from schoolchildren and dignitaries. In Haiti, Rainbow House has produced a DVD in Creole and French that is broadcast on Haitian television to show the healthy, positive stories of HIV-positive children. In Jamaica, the Dare to Care orphanage hosts school groups.

In Trinidad and Tobago, the West Indies Players Association will dedicate its involvement in the 2007 Cricket World Cup to HIV/AIDS issues. "Unite for Children, Unite Against AIDS" aims to prevent mother-to-child transmission, treat and care for children with HIV/AIDS, reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS among young people and protect the rights of AIDS orphans.

In Guyana, UNICEF has mounted campaigns calling for better treatment of the infected in a nation with one of the highest infection rates. The "Don't Dis Me" campaign features ads showing HIV-positive athletes embraced by teammates and HIV-infected children sharing a slide on a playground.