The Caribbean Broadcast Media Partnership on HIV/AIDS (CBMP)
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Regional entertainers and DJs have once again demonstrated how they LIVE UP by willingly participating in the CBMP Super Sound Check (SSC) which happens to be by far one of the most anticipated events on our calendar in this second quarter. This year's SSC, which was once again held during the Digicel Barbados Reggae Festival, saw an increased LIVE UP Team take advantage of the great opportunity to engage with the artistes, DJ's and entertainers who all have the greatest power to influence their audience's thinking and behaviour.__________________________________________________________________________________________________
This year's Super Sound Check II featured exclusive interviews and endorsements from no less an international superstar than Wyclef Jean, dancehall superstar Beenie Man and Jamaican Reggae queen Queen Ifrica among many other popular artists. The Live Up Team worked tirelessly behind the scenes, supporting our LIVE UP Hero Corey Lane, Super Sound Check Host Alex Jordan and CBMP Board Member Ainsley Reid as they conducted interviews and challenged those artistes to think about their positions on stigma and discrimination, the underlying sexual violence in some of the Caribbean's music and the ways they LIVE UP in their personal lives.
Popular Jamaican artist Beenie Man noted the importance of testing in his interview. "If you are a sexually active person you need to get tested. You don't know when you woman can go outside on you. You don't know when you boyfriend can go outside on you because you can't read people mind and you don't know what them doing when them do it behind you back so you need to get tested" he stated.
Fellow Jamaican artist Lady Saw noted that she has been talking about AIDS all of her life and was in fact one of the first female entertainers to deal with this issue. She too touched on the topic of the importance of testing and why personally it was so important to her at this stage of her life.
"I LIVE UP by protecting myself, but I am trying to have a baby so me and my man went to the doctor and we check regularly. That is what people need to do. If you have a partner and you are planning to have a baby you really need to check yourself" she stated.
Perhaps one of the most poignant interviews of SSC II came from Barbadian artist Rupee who has had a very real story to tell of stigma and losing loved ones to this disease.
"HIV/AIDS awareness has been an integral part of my existence, my life. I personally witnessed my mother and my father die before my eyes from this disease. My father had actually died before my mum did and around that time, the stigma attached to AIDS was generally one of it's a homosexual disease. The ignorance was unfortunately at that level. When my father passed away I couldn't tell the average person what he died from" Rupee stated.
This is just a small taste of the wonderfully powerful insights from some of the region's most popular artists and entertainers so look out for SSC II coming your way soon. (Click here to visit our photo gallery on Facebook)
In 2010 the CBMP engaged 33 artistes, DJ's and entertainers involved in the Digicel Barbados Reggae Festival through its Super Sound Check (SSC) pilot project. This was indeed a successful and inspiring project as the region's most popular reggae artists and DJs readily got involved in telling their stories of how they LIVE UP in the face of HIV. This year the CBMP has taken the SSC project to the next level and in the spirit of inclusiveness got the faith-based community on board by hosting Super Sound Check II at the 2011 Gospel Festival.__________________________________________________________________________________________________
The voice of the faith based community is an important one as we tackle the issues surrounding HIV in the region. Indeed It has not always been an easy sell to engage members of the faith based community especially when dealing with issues such as condom use and the need for protection in our sexually charged societies as often times this is interpreted as going against the religious teachings of not engaging in premarital sex which is a basic tenant of most churches. The sensitivities of issues such as these have often resulted in the faith based community being publicly silent on the issues, however Super Sound Check II saw many popular gospel artist sharing their views on the issue of HIV in the region and their roles as change agents in society. These artists all spoke with one voice about the importance of inclusiveness and realism in what is preached from the pulpit, spoken about in prayer groups and generally accepted as part of the church's HIV/AIDS position. The eagerness with which artistes like Kevin Downswell and Doreen Vail spoke candidly about the church's role in the HIV/AIDS community was both heart warming and instructive.
Look out for our Super Sound Check two part documentary coming to a CBMP Partner station near you! Looking forward to Super Sound Check III in 2012! (Click here to visit our photo gallery on Facebook)
REGIONAL TESTING DAY 2011 SPECTACULAR
On Friday May 27th at about ten a.m. the streets of downtown Kingston Jamaica came alive to the sounds of the driving beat of the colorful Tivoli Gardens Marching Band accompanied by enthusiastic placard bearing students of the Holy Family School in the vicinity of the Corporate offices of Scotiabank Jamaica heralding the launch of the 2011 campaign for Regional Testing Day for HIV (RTD). Jamaicans stopped in their tracks to listen to the music and read the placards with the slogans "Get Tested" "Live Up" and "Love. Protect. Respect" in what was surely a spectacular start to RTD 2011.GET TESTED - RTD 2011 IN BARBADOS
After such a spirited opening, it only got better with a performance by seasoned dance and drama group Ashe. The media and other interest groups then heard addresses from government and other stakeholders that consisted of testimony from author of No Stone Unturned Rosemary Stone; resolute, non-partisan political commitment from Health Minister Rudyard Spencer and Opposition Leader Portia Simpson Miller as well as a reinforced message of support - even in these tough economic times - from President and CEO of ScotiaBank Jamaica Bruce Bowen.
Of course no Regional Testing Day could be complete without Jamaican Live Up Hero herself Tanya Stephens who again ably demonstrated the power of entertainers by her bold assertion that "I live for fighting against discrimination" before singing "Do You Still Care" and "Still Alive" CBMP's tireless Executive Director Dr. Allyson Leacock charted the growth of the CBMP's membership; the evolution of the broadcasters' engagement and the strength of the LIVE UP Campaign. The final endorsements came as each of the principle speakers boarded the mobile testing unit; engaged in voluntary pre-test counselling, and had an HIV Test; all emerging triumphantly from the mobile testing unit waving their testing cards as proof they had LIVED UP and Got Tested! And with that Regional Testing Day 2011 was launched!!! (Click here to visit our photo gallery on Facebook)
With the CBMP headquartered in Barbados, Regional Testing Day is fast becoming a national event on the HIV/AIDS annual calendar. The CBMP creative team began rolling out the media campaign in the days leading up to RTD and the sense of anticipation was palpable. While some partner territories like Jamaica had a specific target group they wanted to engage on RTD, the Barbados team was simply focused on increasing the numbers who came out to get tested to help reach its goal of 10,000 people tested across the Caribbean.
ScotiaBank Branches in Barbados were once again a hive of activity for RTD 2011 as regular banking operations went on inside the branch with testing going on in an adjacent parking lot, or in some spacious branches a separate section inside the same physical structure. The response was incredible!
From the main headquarters in the capital city Bridgetown to branches along the South Coast and those around the financial centre towards the west coast... every branch told the story of a steady trickle growing from the time testing opened at 9:00 a.m. on Friday 24th to what proved to be unprecedented numbers, especially in the city. At one point business professionals, groups of young people and couples were standing in the broiling sun in long lines during their lunch hours at Scotiabank Bridgetown waiting for their pre-test counselling and testing.
The wide cross section of groups and individuals who responded to the testing campaign and their willingness to openly stand in lines to get tested not only speaks to the gradual shift in attitudes towards testing, but to the reality that once a so-called 'taboo' activity is normalized there is increased comfort with executing it publicly i.e. getting and HIV Test. At the end of the day when the trained HIV counsellors with the Ministry of Health and their supporting team of volunteers wrapped up testing a total of 1362 individuals had accessed the free service, an increase of 144 people from the 2010 figures for Barbados.
Well done to our team at CBMP Headquarters, our roving reporters, our creative staff, iliveup.com blogger Katrina Marshall, LIVE UP Champion Corey Layne and Chat Host Alex Jordan for keeping everyone abreast of developments and pulling it all together!
Live Wire is pleased to report that not only did Barbados increase upon its numbers tested last year but with some testing still to be done and some numbers still to be reported, the overall 10,000 target has already been surpassed with 10,175 persons reported tested across the region thus far. (Click here to visit our photo gallery on Facebook)