A presentation made at the 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Australia, July 20-25, 2014, underlined research concluding that migrants are an underserved and vulnerable population in the Caribbean. Robert Cazal-Gamelsy, team leader for the Pan Caribbean Partnership Against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP) project in conjunction Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and EPOS Health Management,presented several critical project research findings and recommendations at the conference which included 14,000 participants from 172 countries.
Crucially, he said, it is necessary to counter institutional stigma and discrimination against migrants in health and HIV services. This should translate into domestic law the international legislations and treaties (signed by most countries) that facilitate migrants’ access to these services. The project recommends the removal the obligation of presenting identification or national health insurance cards to use HIV services, and that countries adopt true ‘Universal access’ to HIV services.
Conclusions of the research are that vulnerable migrants are often ‘invisible,’ which contributes to their increased vulnerability to HIV and decreased access to services. An AIDS-free Caribbean is only possible if all residents are taken care of regardless of their immigration status. Therefore, he urged that it should be a priority to implement antistigma and discrimination legislations and policies and to introduce universal access policies across the region.
In the Caribbean, the project is supporting the adoption of the regional PANCAP Model Antidiscrimination Legislation; developing an amendment to the regional PANCAP Model Legislation to strengthen access of vulnerable migrants to HIV services; and conducting trainings using Caribbean training modules on human rights, cultural sensitivity and stigma and discrimination against migrants.