Forging a sustainable response to HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean--the strategic role of a regional conference
The paper provides a rationale for a Caribbean HIV/AIDS Conference as a key ingredient to the regional response mechanism. This initiative stems from the need to address crucial elements of the regional response within the realities of the present regional economic situation and global financial climate, as well as epidemiological and demographic trends. A mixed method approach was adopted for this study, drawing on both primary and secondary data collection techniques. A small survey of leaders and senior practitioners formed the basis of the primary data collection phase, complemented by key informant interviews. The paper proposes a model for a Caribbean HIV Conference that can better position the regional response in line with the present global and local socio-economic and health landscape. Central to this model is the repositioning of the Conference from an "Event" to being an "Activity" in the regional planning agenda and the positioning of the Conference as a fundamental fixture of the region's health calendar. The positive externalities from the synergies developed around the Conference can be identified in terms of the quantifiable costs savings to Agencies. The less quantifiable path relates to networking, exchanges and stronger regional ties that are facilitated through the activity. The main findings of the survey of health leaders indicate significant support for an ongoing regional conference. The results therefore endorse the location of a Conference entity together with the relevant support mechanisms as a key feature on the Caribbean's health landscape.