International Programs

International Programs



Charles R. Drew University has been part of the HIV Prevention Program, since it was launched in Belize in May of 2010. For the first time ever the Belize Defense Force (BDF) was involved in a behavioral surveillance and seroprevalence study. Through this study the attitudes, practices and beliefs of the soldiers were captured and also the HIV prevalence of the force was assessed.  CDU has collaborated directly with the BDF to form an 18-member HIV Response Committee, and to develop a 3-year strategic plan, an HIV policy, and a Behavior Change Communication Plan. With the technical and administrative assistance of CDU, the BDF has also established a second Voluntary Testing and Counseling site at Camp Belizario in the Cayo District.
CDU continues to play an instrumental role in helping to develop BDF-specific prevention messages, logo, slogan, promotional items, and educational materials to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS.
Country demographics
Belize, population 356,000, is the only country in Central America that is English speaking. Belize is situated on the Caribbean Sea, south of Mexico and east and north of Guatemala. In area, it is about the size of New Hampshire. Most of the country is heavily forested with various hardwoods. Mangrove swamps and cays along the coast give way to hills and mountains in the interior. The first known HIV case in Belize was in 1986. Today, the adult prevalence 2.1% and the majority of new infected cases affect individuals within the 20-34 age groups. The geographic concentrations of HIV cases are located in the downtown Belize City district.
Program objectives
The overall goal of the project is to increase the capacity of the Belize Defense Force (BDF) to prevent HIV infection and to promote voluntary counseling and testing among military personnel, their families and their community. Strategies include:

  • Develop a written strategic plan with the BDF which will address the needs of the BDF in responding to the challenges of HIV in the military and in the civilian sector with which they interact.
  • Integrate HIV prevention education and training into the ongoing training and support of soldiers so that it is sustainable and routinely offered to military personnel.
  • Implement specific programs to promote voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) of HIV for military personnel, their families and their communities.

Project demographics
The Belize Defence Force is a brigade-sized organization with two infantry battalions, an Air Wing, a Maritime Wing, a Logistics Company and a Volunteer Battalion headquartered at Price Barracks, Ladyville. In order to facilitate operational commitment throughout the country, there are established Camps in three of the six districts. There is the Fairweather Camp in the Toledo district, Camp Belizario in the Cayo district, and Eyles Camp in the Orange Walk district.  
Unofficial reports received through the Force Medical Officer’s office reports that today’s prevalence rate for HIV within the force is at 0.7%. The majority of these figures account for males at 0.6% and females at 0.14%. Although the figures for the females continue to remain low over the years, it should be noted that in 2001 and 2002 there were no reported cases among female soldiers. Today, however there are 2 cases of infected females soldiers.   
The Force Hospital has the sole responsibility to provide definitive care for soldiers and families living with HIV/AIDS.   While this disease remains a personal issue, no infected soldier has come forth to serve as a strong advocate to effect change within the Force. This is an indication that the level of stigma and discrimination still remains very high among the Force. Through the firm commitment and efforts of the Commander and the Force Medical Officer, the Belize Defence Force has received support from the US Southern Command and Charles Drew University to train soldiers and formulate a three-year strategic plan. In 2011, CDU staff facilitated the first HIV Management & Leadership training with 28 high ranking members of the Belize Defense Force. The recruitment and training of 35 peer advocates across the various camps and different ranks has strengthened the capacity of the BDF to respond to HIV/AIDS concerns within the force.

IEC materials produced          

Training Manuals and Curriculums

Posters and Pamphlets

Mass Media Campaigns

Educational  Tools

Policy Documents

  • Peer Advocates training curriculum
  • Peer advocates manual
  • New recruits training curriculum
  • STI pamphlet
  • “Know Your Status” Poster


  • HIV logo and slogan developed
  • BDF HIV website
  • BDF HIV Cadence



  • Laminated Stand Down Messages
  • HIV Policy Tri-fold



  • HIV Policy approved by Defense Board and printed
  • Strategic Plan approved by Defense Board and printed
  • HIV Logo and slogan developed
  • Annual Leadership and Management Training held yearly
  • HIV committee selected and functioning (quarterly meetings)
  • Assistant Project Director hired to assist in program implementation
  • STI pamphlet developed and distributed
  • Know your status poster developed and distributed
  • Peer advocates kits developed and distributed
  • 31 Peer Advocates completed training
  • Soldiers wear red ribbon during World Aids Week activities
  • Peer advocates manual developed
  • HIV education integrated into recruit training
  • Development of BDF HIV website
  • Camp Belizario Medic Center launched
  • VCT Campaigns held during BDF Day, Sports Day and at camps country-wide
  • Activities held at Price Barracks, Air Wing, and Punta Gorda during World AIDS  Week
  • HIV education incorporated into activities such as lunch and learn, movie night, karaoke night
  • Provider Initiated Counseling and Testing Training held for medics yearly
  • Peer advocates conducts session with soldiers during VCT campaign
  • Monitoring and evaluation plan developed
  • Peer Advocates Incentives program established

Staff : Sheila Middleton Kerr, M.Ed.- Project Director, Belize

Mrs. Kerr has extensive health education, management and consulting expertise in the areas of HIV/AIDS workplace education and reproductive health. In addition, her 12 years of experience include strategic marketing, training, behavior change communication, proposal writing, project management, and health advocacy.  Mrs. Kerr began her career by receiving her Bachelors Degree in Social Work from Spalding University in Louisville Kentucky. She later worked at the Princess Royal Youth Hostel, Belize Family Life Association, ILO HIV Workplace Education Program and United Populations Fund (UNFPA).  In 2009, Ms. Kerr completed a Masters degree in Education with concentration in Health Promotion from the University of West Indies (UWI), St Augustine Campus in Trinidad. At the UWI, Mrs. Kerr successfully managed a three year project funded by the Summit Foundation entitled “Improving Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health”. She lead a three-year project “HIV/AIDS Workplace Education Program” funded by the US Department of Labor and managed by the International Labor Organization in Geneva.  She is a highly effective and dynamic communicator and trainer in the field of HIV/AIDS and Sexual and Reproductive Health. Kerr has conducted numerous health education training workshops, community outreach efforts and academic presentations. She has developed numerous key strategic communication materials and newsletters for international public awareness programs. Moreover, Mrs. Kerr has worked closely as a health consultant organizing the implementation of critical HIV/AIDS Workplace Education Programs for numerous countries. She has shared her experiences with effective strategic training programs internationally within the countries of Geneva, Guyana, South Africa, Ghana, Trinidad, Brazil, Barbados and the United States.

Belize Photos 9-5-13 CDUstaff