The OECS Secretariat, the University of Alabama Birmingham and the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition jointly staged a two day sub-regional data dissemination workshop. Regional participants discussed the findings from the population size estimates, mappings and behavioural studies recently conducted throughout the OECS. In 2015 the OECS Regional Coordinating Mechanism was awarded a grant from the Global Fund to focus on key populations. Joan Didier is the Director for the OECS Regional Coordinating Mechanism.
“The OECS Grant is focused on MSMs, female sex workers and transgender. But we have a huge challenge in that we don’t have the available data to enable us to adequately target the populations.” The multi-country study provides strategic information to guide HIV prevention policy, planning and responses including monitoring progress and accountability of programme goals and objectives. Ivan Cruickshank is the Executive Director of the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC), a sub recipient of the grant. CVC worked with regional NGOs in the national AIDS Programmes to develop the methodology and conduct the fieldwork in each of the six OECS countries.
“As part of the global community we signed onto what is called the 90/90/90 targets. Which is 90% of persons living with HIV know their status, 90% of those who know their status are on ARVs and 90% of those on ARVs are virally suppressed. Now in order for us to properly know whether we are near to the 90 especially among the key population groups, we need to know the size of these populations and so this study and this dissemination event is intended to help us to get to those numbers.” Dr. Cleophus D’Auvergne, Project Coordinator for the OECS HIV/TB Elimination Project said the OECS brought stakeholders together to develop a comprehensive analysis of the population size estimate study.
“This is important because we need consensus, we need buy-in. We need to have a clear agreement that this is worth what we actually paid for in terms of the study itself and also look at ways of implementing the study going forward.” The data from the study will be used for strategic health planning to provide targeted interventions for key populations and to support the continuation of grant funding for HIV and Tuberculosis. The study was commission approximately one year ago.