amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research

June 8 Is National Caribbean-American HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

June 8 marks the annual National Caribbean-American HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, a grassroots initiative aimed at mobilizing the Caribbean-American community in the fight against AIDS.  According to the National Planning Committee, convened by the Caribbean People International Collective, Inc., the day was established to encourage Caribbean-American and Caribbean-born individuals across the United States to get educated, get tested, get treated, and get involved.

UNAIDS reports that the Caribbean’s HIV prevalence among adults is about one percent, which is higher than in all other regions outside sub-Saharan Africa.  In the U.S., Caribbean-Americans and Caribbean immigrants are often included under the umbrella group of African-Americans, which are the most disproportionately impacted racial/ethnic group in the country according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

National Caribbean-American HIV/AIDS Awareness Day offers an opportunity for community groups, government agencies, and healthcare providers to focus attention on Caribbean-Americans’ vulnerability to HIV and the obstacles they face living with the virus. One such obstacle is homophobia, which remains a significant challenge in reducing the spread and impact of HIV among men who have sex with men (MSM) throughout the Caribbean diaspora. 

amfAR’s MSM Initiative recently hosted representatives from two of its Caribbean-based grantee organizations: Luke Sinnette, president of Friends for Life in Trinidad and Tobago, and Eric Castellanos, president of the Collaborative Network of Persons Living with HIV in Belize.  During presentations at Gay Men’s Health Crisis and the United Nations, both men stressed the importance of empowering local, grassroots organizations to educate and advocate on behalf of individuals living with and affected by HIV in their own communities. 

For more information on National Caribbean-American HIV/AIDS Awareness Day events, click here.