National AIDS Committee has no problem with Prof Bain's report

Thursday, May 22, 2014

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KINGSTON, Jamaica -- The National AIDS Committee (NAC) early Thursday issued a statement saying that "it takes no issue with, and has no objection to the actual content of the report of Professor Brendan Bain to the Court in Belize".
Bain was fired from his post as director of the Regional Co-ordinating Unit of the Caribbean HIV/AIDS Regional Training Network (CHART) by the University of the West Indies for statements regarding men who have sex with men that he made as an expert witness in a Belize court case.
But according to the NAC, "there is nothing in that report which is contrary to, or offensive to the work of the National AIDS Committee."
The NAC is a non- government organisation established in 1988 “to facilitate multi-sectoral collaboration to reduce the negative impact of HIV/AIDS on the Jamaican society and promote an informed, supportive and caring environment that empowers persons living with and affected by HIV/AIDS.”
The NAC’s statement on Thursday in full:
The National AIDS Committee wishes to clarify that it takes no issue with the content of the Report of Professor Brendan Bain to the Court in Belize. There is nothing in that Report which is contrary to or offensive to the work of the National AIDS Committee.
In his report, Professor Bain highlighted for the court that homosexual men were at higher risk of contracting HIV and other sexual transmitted infections and that a supportive environment is needed at the community and governmental levels to enable high risk groups to access and practice safe sex.
This is the very position of the National AIDS Committee: The NAC and civil society groups acknowledge that HIV is more prevalent among certain groups including homosexual men. Many studies and research across the Caribbean region show that the legal framework act as a barrier to certain groups such as persons below the age of consent who cannot freely access medical information, advice and services, homosexual men, prisoners and women living in poverty. These studies also show that lack of correct information, stigma and discrimination by healthcare professionals, also act as barriers to access.
One of the strategies that the regional HIV Programme has agreed to pursue to increase access for these vulnerable groups is to (i) provide training and capacity building support to health professionals and (ii) to address the legal and policy barriers, including taking steps for the removal of certain laws which act as barriers. Both of these are under a single expected result: improving access to HIV treatment, care, prevention, and support services for vulnerable groups. CHART was established with the specific intent of supporting this outcome through the training health professionals, to equip them with the skills they need to provide non-discriminatory, confidential services to all persons.
Professor Bain’s was engaged for this specific mandate: to manage the project called CHART to ensure that the objectives of the project and the overall Strategy under which the CHART project falls are met.
It is the contention of the NAC and other Civil Society Groups that by participating in the case of Caleb Orozco v. the Attorney General for Belize et al, at the specific request of, and on behalf of a group of churches who were opposing the removal of a law which is shown to prevent access to treatment, care and support, when his very contract calls for him to be taking action in the opposite direction, that Professor Bain was conflicted. In doing what he did, he no longer had the capacity to engage with the target groups and to provide the type of leadership needed, to achieve the objectives mentioned above. This is the only issue which the NAC and Civil Society takes with Professor Bain. The NAC reject any assertion that our objection is in relation to his right to express himself or to give contrary opinions.

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