In 2001, Jhpiego was asked by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to create a network of HIV counseling and testing providers and trainers in Jamaica. Jhpiego worked with the Ministry of Health and long-standing AIDS service organizations such as Jamaica AIDS Support to develop the capacity of trainers to train others in voluntary counseling and testing (VCT). Jhpiego’s VCT intervention forever changed the way HIV services are provided in the Caribbean, and as a result, most countries in the region have institutionalized VCT training in their HIV programs.
Jhpiego’s trainer development pathway, which features competency-based training of trainers and mentoring, enabled Jamaica, and later the greater Caribbean region, to implement a sustainable and evidence-based network approach. Within a year of its initiation, the VCT training program expanded to public sector and nongovernmental organization sites in all parishes in Jamaica. This meant there was a network of trainers and service providers available to all Jamaicans interested in getting an HIV test. Two years after the program’s inception, USAID’s Caribbean Regional Office requested that Jhpiego expand its coverage to include Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dominica and Suriname.
By doing so, Jhpiego empowered a pool of master trainers with the skills to instruct cadres of other trainers throughout the region and increased VCT coverage to even the smallest islands. These programs always featured strong collaboration between ministries of health in each country and the AIDS service organizations tasked with reaching those most vulnerable to HIV infection. This program has touched the lives of countless trainers and counselors, many of whom have remained in contact with each other for more than a decade through an email group dedicated to HIV best practices and new developments.