The United States Government, in collaboration with the Government of Barbados, observed Regional HIV Testing Day on June 27, with the launch of an essential package of HIV prevention and treatment services and a corresponding service directory. Five hundred copies will be distributed to health and social service providers and members of the public to increase awareness of and access to these services for Barbadians, particularly marginalized populations.
The essential package of services was developed by the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) LINKAGES Project, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Wellness. This valuable resource lists the important services needed for key populations (KPs) – those most vulnerable to HIV – to meet their health needs and to promote sexual health and well-being. It can be used by providers to ensure they are offering clients the necessary care and treatment based on their health status, risk factors, and other determinants.
The Government of Barbados, particularly the Ministry of Health and Wellness, continues to demonstrate genuine commitment to HIV programming. To this end, Barbados has established the region’s first “Shared Care Initiative”, that provides a spectrum of services and public and private service providers, including the USAID-supported CEED (Community Education, Empowerment and Development) and EQUALS (Empowerment, Quality, Unity, Acceptance, Love and Support), to meet the differentiated needs of KPs.
Community-based organizations, like CEED and EQUALS, are critical partners in the HIV response and examples of meaningful civil society engagement. The Ministry of Health and Wellness, CEED, and EQUALS are distributing copies of the directory as a tool to improve sexual health among the population in Barbados.