Sunday 25 August, 2019

HIV AIDS Commission fighting stigma, discrimination on the road

Minister of People Empowerment Cynthia Forde was up front and center with the National HIV AIDS Commission.

Minister of People Empowerment Cynthia Forde was up front and center with the National HIV AIDS Commission.

Minister of People Empowerment and Elderly Affairs Cynthia Forde has chalked up the National HIV AIDS Commission’s participation in the just concluded Grand Kadooment as a success.

The statutory body which advises the Government on plans and policies and builds strategic partnerships to effectively manage, control and reduce the spread of HIV in Barbados, partnered with band leader Varia Williams and designer Omowale Stuart to sensitise Barbadians about HIV on the road.

Forde told Loop News, the band themed Rainbow Love, was focused around the elimination of HIV-related stigma and discrimination.

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“We are on the road today, the members of staff and quite a significant number of our volunteers mostly, to sensitise; making sure that we spread the messages. 

"We are also providing condoms and bandanas and so on and the kind of literature necessary for Barbadians to be aware that HIV is a dreaded disease.  When you condomize . . . when you perform all those practices necessary it can save lives and millions of dollars being spent on health care and other aspects of the development,” she noted.

Revellers in the Commission's band wore red and white t-shirts with the message Condoms for me - No HIV and headpieces or backpacks which depicted various areas being tackled, while others wore grey shirts which bore the message Man Aware.

“Our headpieces - some represent the Food Bank . . . the National HIV AIDS Commission offer this service to persons who are living with the disease as well as other services that can be offered.  Our mantra says we must not discriminate or stigmatize. 

“We are in this together . . . touching lives all over Barbados and turning them around . . . helping them to better understand this dreaded disease and how it is impacting not only the lives of the individuals but their families and society,” the minister added.

In recent years, the National HIV AIDS Commission has taken steps to be more visible in public and has actively sponsored public events ranging from shows, fetes, parish Carnivals and other events.

Forde said this shift now more than ever is in keeping with the Commission’s new focus.

“We are making sure that we come up with a new vision for the department and so we met last week to share some ideas and best practices not only in Barbados but also in the rest of the Caribbean and the world.  We are satisfied that the Commission is doing excellent work in helping transform Barbados.

“We are people who must be empowered and embraced in every sphere of life.  Therefore I commend all of the volunteers, sponsors, all of Barbados generally, for all the support they have given us over the years and we look forward to them helping us through another year,” she added.

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