JIS News

Jamaica’s fight against the spread of HIV/AIDS received a major boost last week through a strategic partnership with two private sector entities and a local group.
Counterpart International through its Caribbean arm, in conjunction with Coca Cola and the Kingston-based Ashe Caribbean Performing Arts Ensemble, have joined forces to generate awareness and combat the spread of the disease.
Addressing the launch of the ‘Teens HIV/AIDS Prevention Project,’ at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, recently, Dr. Basil Springer, Head of Counterpart International’s Caribbean arm, thanked the Coca-Cola Foundation and the Coca-Cola Company for not shying away from such a “controversial and un-commercial” topic as HIV.
“Coca Cola, through its philanthropy arm, has put the power of its brand, with all its positive connotations to so many young people, behind this project to generate awareness among young Jamaicans about the dangers of the virus and its transmission.”Dr. Springer called on corporations to play a lead role in addressing some of the region’s development challenges, such as the HIV/AIDS pandemic. “We trust that corporations, like Coca-Cola, want to be good citizens and we are eager to engage them and help them to help us in our work.”
He noted that such ‘smart partnerships’ stood as an example of civic minded corporations working with organizations like NGOs to positively impact communities. “Young people may not pay much attention to traditional sermons and lectures,” Dr. Springer said, “but they are attracted and engaged by entertainment and lifestyle approaches. Coca-Cola’s role is important for its economic clout as well as its pop culture status among young people”.
The Chairman expressed the hope that the power of the Coca-Cola brand and ASHE’s music, humor and art will breach the walls, which he said cultural taboos in the Caribbean had built around the subjects of sex and HIV/AIDS.
The Coca-Cola Foundation and Company have been active in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Africa and have been at the forefront of the business sector in championing HIV/AIDS workplace policies, including the provision of anti-retroviral drugs. The Jamaican pilot project is the first such initiative being supported by Coca-Cola outside Africa.
The six-month project will include life skills education, youth-led training, a referral system and other services to properly equip the Jamaican youth. It is poised to make significant headway in preventing the spread of the disease in the Caribbean nation where risky sexual behaviour and ignorance about the disease transmission prevails.
Founded in 1965 as the Foundation for the Peoples of the South Pacific, Counterpart International is a nonprofit development organization committed to building civil societies and advancing human development throughout the world.
Through its “smart partnership” philosophy, Counterpart has joined hands with strategic partners in the public, private, NGO and donor communities, resulting in successful environmental, social and economic development programmes in more than 60 countries.