2003 Partnerships Build
2003 found CHRC entering to a partnership with DrugScope UK for the implementation of a regional training programme of the Evaluation of Psychoactive Substance Use Disorder Treatment. 15 participants from 1o Caribbean countries, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Cayman, Grenada, Guyana, Dominica, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent, and Trinidad & Tobago attended the 3 sessions, 16 day course over an eight month period. The funds for this training were accessed by DrugScope from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the UK Government and OAS/CICAD. Sessions were held in February, May and October.
The trainings were peripatetic to enable participants to visit best practice sites in two of the three host countries Trinidad, and Cayman. Trinidad is particularly known for its vibrant NGO sector and its innovative street based interventions.
In addition to this course CHRC participated in a number of regional initiatives. Our Trinidad representative, Joe Meharris, attended a research training programme conducted by the Caribbean Epidemiological Centre (CAREC) in Trinidad, another first for an NGO focused on harm reduction. Joe is the manager of Oasis, a low threshold drop in Centre in Port of Spain Trinidad.
Coordinator of the CHRC represented the Coalition at a research conference entitled “Building a Collaborative Research Agenda: Drug Abuse and HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean” sponsored by US NIH NIDA. CHRC was integral in assisting in the planning of the Caribbean participation sitting as an equal member of the planning committee with such power players as the CARICOM Secretariat, University of the West Indies and CAREC. The Conference was held in Nassau in April of 2003 and gave us a opportunity to visit with CHRC member Terry Miller of BASH (Bahamas Association for Social Health)
In May CHRC was asked to participate in a meeting in Washington DC sponsored by the Demand Reduction Unit of the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) of Organization of American States (OAS) (OAS/CICAD) in attendance 15 Caribbean persons representing National Drug Councils, CARICOM, CAREC, the UWI and two NGOs; CHRC and a Verdun House, Barbados. Discussions centred on moving the demand reduction agenda forward in the Caribbean with the financial support of the OAS/CICAD.
CHRC continued conducting its research project entitled “Needs Analysis for Primary Health Care among the Street Drug Using Community of the Urban Caribbean” which looked at issues of access and availability of health care to the street drug using populations of the Urban Caribbean. Interviews were held with 48 crack using individuals in Port of Spain, Trinidad. The interview team was based at the Oasis Drop In Centre. This sample with be combined with the Sample collected in Castries in 2002. This was a self funded project of the CHRC.
2004 NON INJECTING DRUG USE AND HIV
2004 is the year the CHRC began to show evidence of the links between non injecting drug use and HIV/AIDS. As we began to run the analysis of our research project “Needs Analysis for Primary Health Care among the Street Drug Using Community of the Urban Caribbean” we started to see high rates of reported HIV+ status coupled with HIV levels of risk behaviours associated with the infection, risk behaviours that were motivated by high levels of crack use and a need to acquire money to fund the habit. Unprotected tranactional sex, both heterosexual and male homosexual was reported by over three quarters of the respondents. In addition to this, analysis of the responses to the 210 question instrument began to reveal data on crack use initiation, self reported co-occurring mental health issues, crack use and violence, criminality and incarceration rates.
In March 2004 we were invited to present our data at a number of Conferences including the NIH sponsored “A Multicultural Caribbean United against HIV/AIDS”. What was significant about this conference was the focus was on the non-English speaking Caribbean. Because the data from our research was so significant an exception was made for the CHRC coordinator to present.
2004 also led to a further expansion of the research sample by including Kingston Jamaica. The research was based at the drop in centre operated by Patricia House in New Kingston area. A sample of 50 individuals was sought and data collection was begun in October. By December 25 completed instruments were forwarded to CHRC for analysis and the balance was to be collected in the first quarter of 2005.