HIV and AIDS COORDINATING UNIT (HACU)


What is the HIV and AIDS Coordinating Unit (HACU)?

The HIV and AIDS Coordinating Unit of the Ministry of National Security is responsible for the implementation, management and evaluation of HIV and AIDS awareness, education, prevention, care, treatment and support activities among the various Divisions of the Ministry of National Security. The mission of the Unit is to mitigate the impact of HIV and AIDS, as well as, to eliminate discrimination


Why is HIV/AIDS a National Security issue?

HIV/AIDS is not only a public health issue, but an issue for every citizen, every Ministry, and every organization. We all have a responsibility to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS and to support those affected by the disease.

The Ministry of National Security has an even greater responsibility in promoting HIV/AIDS sensitization among its employees, as it has been found that globally uniformed service personnel are more at risk to HIV and other STIs. This is mainly due to the nature of their jobs and the sub-culture of the protective services. HIV has weakened troop strength in some countries, depleting police and armed forces, and challenging the ability of key militaries to recruit healthy personnel. Additionally, in some countries, it has contributed to state instability.

The HIV/AIDS pandemic has had severe demographic effects on hard-hit societies across the globe. Trinidad and Tobago has made significant progress in reducing new HIV infections and mother-to child-infection rates. These positive gains can be easily reversed if there is a reduction in the national response to the epidemic. The growth of HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths can have devastating effects on families, business structures, and the armed forces. It has the ability to undermine our country’s development, security forces and life as we know it.

Thus, to combat the continued spread of HIV and AIDS, in 2007, the Cabinet of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago appointed an HIV and AIDS Coordinator within the Ministry of National Security and later established the Ministry’s HIV and AIDS Coordinating Unit.  This Unit is responsible for the implementation, management and evaluation of HIV and AIDS awareness, education, prevention, care, treatment and support activities among the various Divisions of the Ministry of National Security. Basically, it is responsible in part, for keeping our troops healthy, so they can better serve the people of Trinidad and Tobago. 


What does the HIV and AIDS Coordinating Unit (HACU) do?

The HIV and AIDS Coordinating Unit has four priority areas:

Priority 1: Prevention
Reduced susceptibility of the staff of MNS especially those of the uniformed services   to HIV infections   Develop and implement HIV/AIDS workplace programmes aimed at promoting safe and healthy sexual behaviour among the uniformed services under the Ministry of National Security. 
  Develop and implement  needs oriented Behaviour Change Communication programmes for the Ministry of National Security
  Build capacity within the Divisions to deliver the curriculum as part of their access as well as in service training programmes and to ensure sustainability of programme
  Educate personnel on the application of Universal precautions as a strategy of risk reduction in the workplace
  Develop and produce sector specific IEC material
  Condom distribution and policies, including the promotion of 100% condom use policies in surrounding communities where posted or stationed
  Educate youths of the SYSP (CCC; MILAT;), TTCF and children of  divisional staff regarding the modes and risks of HIV transmission and the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS and populations affected by HIV/AIDS, through peer-based programmes
Priority 2: Treatment, Care and Support 
Increased capacity of the existing Divisional medical clinics to provide treatment care and support for uniformed persons and general staff infected and affected by HIV and AIDS  Strengthen STI services within Health delivery systems used by the uniformed services 
  Scale up medical services units to provide quality voluntary counselling and testing (VCT) services
Priority 3: Advocacy and Human Rights
Increased capacity of the Divisions  to support development of workplace policy and programmes Advocacy at the highest levels to mandate non-discriminating policies
  Provide senior-level personnel with education and awareness about the various issues integral to HIV/AIDS policy planning and development and prevention activities. 
  Education and training to promote and foster non-stigmatizing and non-discriminatory attitudes and practices among professionals, particularly those who provide care to people living with HIV/AIDS on an occasional basis
  Specialized legal services for people living with HIV/AIDS and persons affected by HIV/AIDS
Priority 4: Programme Management, Coordination and Evaluation
Functional HIV/AIDS Coordinating Unit  Provide adequate technical and administrative support to ensure the establishment of the AIDS Coordinating Unit (ACU) and divisional sub-units  and the development of a successful programme that works.


Where can I access more information about the HACU?

To request a workshop or other programmes on HIV and AIDS, contact HACU at:

The HIV and AIDS Coordinating Unit

Ministry of National Security

Temple Court I

31-33 Abercromby Street

Port of Spain

Tel: 623-2441-5 ext. 12271-3

Email: awhitehall@mns.gov.tt or fpeters@mns.gov.tt