Thousands of persons in Haiti participated in the annual AIDS Walk which this year was held in the city of Jackmel. Organized by PHAP+ (Plate Forme des Associations de Personnes vivant avec le VIH)a network of institutions and association working in HIV, the occasion saw participants with placards with many different messages connected to the central theme of ensuring that the promise of universal access to treatment is secured for all.
Special T-shirts for the march read "Keep your promise. We all have the same rights"
Members of the Caribbean Treatment Action Group (CTAG) from the countries of Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Guyana, Curacao, Belize and St. Lucia were also present and participated in this ground breaking advocacy event.
CTAG members and their Haitian counterparts pose for the camera during the road march.
The occasion was even more fulfilling because CTAG observed the second Annual Access to Treatment Day which this year focuses on access to treatment issues for migrant sex workers. In making the day's declaration CTAG's Mario Kleinmoedig of Curacao said, "We are aware that sex workers travel to other countries to seek a better livelihood. In many cases they cannot access proper health care and therefore go un-attended". He underscored the need for urgent action to be taken especially given the theme of World AIDS Week 2009 which is Access to Health Care and Human Rights. "Ultimately we have to ensure equal access for all persons living with HIV" he stated.
Mario Kleinmoedig(right) being interviewed by a Haitian journalist.
Caleb Orozco of Belize's UNIBAM was ecstatic about this year's focus. He said "No vulnerable population should be left out. All must have access to the same levels of care and support. We must come out of the closet about migrant sex workers and stop pretending that they do not exist" he stated.
For Caleb Orozco of Belize, his banner says it all, "Stop, let's keep opening the closets so that the struggle can go forward"
Another highlight of the launch was the unveiling of the new CTAG
documentary called "A Right to be: Sex Workers Access to Health care in the Caribbean". Produced by the Caribbean Vulnerable communities Coalition (CVC), this fifteen minute documentary is designed to bring this matter to the attention of policy makers, NGOs and funding agencies in an effort for them to become aware of the needs of the population of sex workers in the Caribbean. The documentary can be viewed on:-
A right to be documentary - part1
A right to be documentary - part2
Some members of the audience that viewed the documentary
Steeve Laguerre, Executive Director of SEROvie in Haiti lauded the documentary and said it was a well needed advocacy tool "Many times many of our sex workers who work in other countries are not able to keep up with even basic care and treatment" he said. 'This documentary will help us to open our eyes to that fact.
Steeve Laguerre, SEROvie Executive Director (centre) is caught in discussion with Antoine Mehu (right) Zonal Manager North and Reginald Dupont SEROvie Head of Programs after the events.
Access To Treatment Campaign 2008