XVIII International AIDS Conference


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Understanding and designing HIV programmes with faith based organisations in St. Kitts and Nevis

R. Lall1, N. Kassie2, A. Maiorana3, J. Myers3, G. Bombereau-Mulot1, M. Thomas4, N. Persaud1, B. Williams4

1Caribbean HIV/AIDS Alliance, Eastern Caribbean Community Action Project, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, 2Caribbean HIV/AIDS Alliance, Eastern Caribbean Community Action Project, Basseterre, Saint Kitts and Nevis, 3University of California San Francisco (UCSF), San Francisco, United States, 4Caribbean HIV/AIDS Alliance, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago

Background: There is an emphasis placed on faith based organisations (FBOs) in the HIV response within the St. Kitts and Nevis national strategic plan. However, there is little information on the role that FBOs can play nationally. This study therefore examined the willingness, capacity, barriers and facilitators to implementing HIV programmes through faith based communities in this country.
Methods: A situational analysis was undertaken using a combination of qualitative and quantitative data collection methods. Methods included structured interviews with denominational representatives and a survey with individual church representatives across denominations and geographic areas within St. Kitts. Areas covered in data collection included relevant FBO doctrines and teachings, HIV current programming, interest in expanded programming and existing facilitators and barriers.
Results: Some FBOs in St. Kitts are engaged in counselling and testing and services to PLHIV and PLWA on an informal and small-scale basis. FBOs are interested in expanding HIV related programmes, particularly in relation to the provision of services for PLHIV/PLWA and undertaking anti-stigma sensitisation activities among congregants. However, these are not necessarily given widespread support within individual FBOs nor are they always implemented in an organised or purposive fashion. Existing stigma, limited resources and teachings constrain FBO engagement in HIV programming. Prevention messages are limited to abstinence and faithfulness.
Conclusions: While verbal support for HIV programming is widespread among FBOs in St. Kitts and Nevis, the levels of readiness within FBOs for an organised response to HIV varies. Messages and programmes must be tailored to the ability and willingness of the individual FBO to implement these programmes, including programmes for PLHIV and PLWA and, more importantly, HIV prevention. Programmes should specifically target the youth within the FBOs. More long-term efforts should be directed towards the development of a uniform national and regional programme with respect to HIV and AIDS.

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