The Caribbean Network of People Living with HIV was established on 28 September 1996 and since then I have been at the helm of the organisation as the Executive Director. The organisation has between 1,200 and 1,500 registered members. But what is startling, is the bleeding of its membership due to deaths linked to adherence issues, signifying the continued need for attention to pervading psychosocial issues that lead to this situation. I know of many of CRN+’s members, who despite being keenly involved in the AIDS response and having access to medication had struggled with adherence leading to their demise.
Actually, CRN+, like other entities has been affected by the financial crisis because of the premature end of the Global Fund Grant in January of 2009 and other funding sources such as the World Bank grant and the UNAIDS grant that ended in March 2010. This has impacted on staffing, which has been reduced from 16 to 4 persons and implementation of its programmes. However, I am resolute that our focus remains on implementation and representation of our stakeholders, which has been CRN+’s flagship over the years. I think that through a dint of ‘luck’ the PAHO/WHO Country Office is currently sharing office with CRN+, which has assisted with rental subsidization and therefore the ongoing operation of the organization. Global Fund Round 9 funding in the amount of US$1 million for the next five-year period is expected on CRN+’s passing the assessment and meeting of other conditionalities.
CRN+ has also been the recipient of Private Sector funding in 2009 from Johnson & Johnson Company Limited, who has indicated interest in continuing their partnership in 2010 given its successful partnership in 2009.
In the future CRN+ will be operationalising global products such as the GIPA, Positive Prevention and the Stigma and Discrimination Index. I stressthat a key area for CRN+ would be for research on persons living with HIV as part of the Most-at-Risk Populations (MARP) and MARPs need to self-identify if we are to make any headway on reducing new HIV infection and positively impacting the lives of persons living with and affected by HIV. I lament though, that in the current scenario this may take another decade but that CRN+, unlike many who have disappeared with the funding, will remain and continue to do its part.
Photo Caption: Yolanda Simon, Executive Director, Caribbean Regional Network of People Living with HIV (CRN+)