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Cell Phone Messages to Help Battle HIV/AIDS

Oct. 16, 2007 — Leaders in the Caribbean’s battle against HIV/AIDS are on St. Thomas looking at ways to confront the pandemic. HIV/AIDS is more prevalent in the islands than anywhere else in the world outside sub-Saharan Africa, according to United Nations statistics.
HIV/AIDS experts and program coordinators from more than three dozen Caribbean nations and territories are holding a three-day AIDS conference. The theme is "Strengthening the National AIDS Responses in Partnerships with Youth Programming." The conference is sponsored by the Caribbean Coalition of National AIDS Programme Coordinators, or CCNAPC. It ends Thursday.
Among the initiatives to spread the word about HIV/AIDS prevention is a worldwide media campaign and a cell phone-messaging program that will be launched Dec. 1.
The regional media campaign is called the Caribbean Broadcast Media Partnership on HIV and AIDS, or CBMP. It was started in May 2006, in Barbados, and it is headed by Allyson Leacock.
The CBMP grew out of the 2004 initiative launched by then-U.N. Secretary General Koffi Annan, His aim was to mobilize global media in the fight against HIV/AIDS. To date, 160 media companies worldwide have endorsed the objectives.
"This is a first-ever media-led initiative to fight HIV and AIDS … through news, special events or PSAs (public service announcements)," Leacock said. Fifty broadcasters in 23 Caribbean countries have signed on to spread the word about HIV/AIDS prevention, agreeing to a minimum of 30 seconds of free programming every hour. The programming is being produced and funded through the CBMP, in partnership with the Kaiser Family Foundation, as well as such networks as MTV, Black Entertainment Television (BET) and Univision.
The Caribbean campaign is called "Live Up — Love, Protect, Respect." It encourages people to get tested for HIV/AIDS, talk openly about the problem and end discrimination against those who have the disease. "It’s really everybody’s business and responsibility, so we are asking and urging people to take action," Leacock said.
Kimberly Dasher of the Kaiser Family Foundation used the conference to unveil a plan to make HIV/AIDS prevention information globally accessible to everyone through cell phones.
The system involves a "short message" that will be delivered at the end of PSAs. In the case of the Caribbean, the short message will be the word "live." Cell phone users can text that word into their phone. A message will be sent back, free of charge, that lists HIV/AIDS resources and contact information in the caller’s region.
Dasher said one cell phone company, Digicel Group, has agreed to offer the message, and more are expected to join. Digicel does not operate in the Virgin Islands.
Taetia Phillips-Dorsett is territorial director of the STD (sexually transmitted diseases)/HIV/TB program for the Department of Health. Since 1983, she said, there have been a total of 855 HIV/AIDS cases in the territory. As of December 2006, 591 people were living with AIDS and 264 with HIV.
"We’ve been averaging about 50 HIV/AIDS cases per year," Phillips-Dorsett said. Based on per-capita statistics, the Virgin Islands is the fourth-highest region for HIV/AIDS cases in the United States.
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Oct. 16, 2007 -- Leaders in the Caribbean’s battle against HIV/AIDS are on St. Thomas looking at ways to confront the pandemic. HIV/AIDS is more prevalent in the islands than anywhere else in the world outside sub-Saharan Africa, according to United Nations statistics.
HIV/AIDS experts and program coordinators from more than three dozen Caribbean nations and territories are holding a three-day AIDS conference. The theme is "Strengthening the National AIDS Responses in Partnerships with Youth Programming." The conference is sponsored by the Caribbean Coalition of National AIDS Programme Coordinators, or CCNAPC. It ends Thursday.
Among the initiatives to spread the word about HIV/AIDS prevention is a worldwide media campaign and a cell phone-messaging program that will be launched Dec. 1.
The regional media campaign is called the Caribbean Broadcast Media Partnership on HIV and AIDS, or CBMP. It was started in May 2006, in Barbados, and it is headed by Allyson Leacock.
The CBMP grew out of the 2004 initiative launched by then-U.N. Secretary General Koffi Annan, His aim was to mobilize global media in the fight against HIV/AIDS. To date, 160 media companies worldwide have endorsed the objectives.
"This is a first-ever media-led initiative to fight HIV and AIDS ... through news, special events or PSAs (public service announcements)," Leacock said. Fifty broadcasters in 23 Caribbean countries have signed on to spread the word about HIV/AIDS prevention, agreeing to a minimum of 30 seconds of free programming every hour. The programming is being produced and funded through the CBMP, in partnership with the Kaiser Family Foundation, as well as such networks as MTV, Black Entertainment Television (BET) and Univision.
The Caribbean campaign is called "Live Up -- Love, Protect, Respect." It encourages people to get tested for HIV/AIDS, talk openly about the problem and end discrimination against those who have the disease. "It’s really everybody’s business and responsibility, so we are asking and urging people to take action," Leacock said.
Kimberly Dasher of the Kaiser Family Foundation used the conference to unveil a plan to make HIV/AIDS prevention information globally accessible to everyone through cell phones.
The system involves a "short message" that will be delivered at the end of PSAs. In the case of the Caribbean, the short message will be the word "live." Cell phone users can text that word into their phone. A message will be sent back, free of charge, that lists HIV/AIDS resources and contact information in the caller’s region.
Dasher said one cell phone company, Digicel Group, has agreed to offer the message, and more are expected to join. Digicel does not operate in the Virgin Islands.
Taetia Phillips-Dorsett is territorial director of the STD (sexually transmitted diseases)/HIV/TB program for the Department of Health. Since 1983, she said, there have been a total of 855 HIV/AIDS cases in the territory. As of December 2006, 591 people were living with AIDS and 264 with HIV.
"We’ve been averaging about 50 HIV/AIDS cases per year," Phillips-Dorsett said. Based on per-capita statistics, the Virgin Islands is the fourth-highest region for HIV/AIDS cases in the United States.
Back Talk Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.