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Legal professionals attend 3-day HIV/AIDS workshop

Legal professionals attend 3-day HIV/AIDS workshop

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A three-day workshop for the Law, Ethics and Human Rights Project began on Wednesday, July 19 at the Sunset Shores Hotel’s Conference Room.

This is the second Sub-Regional workshop for Legal Service Providers of HIV/AIDS related issues.

The goal of the workshop is to develop policies to better respond to the challenges of HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean and to further the development of a supporting environment for the National and Regional responses to HIV/AIDS.{{more}}

The objectives include increasing the capacity of legal service providers in the region to provide services to persons living with AIDS and communities vulnerable to HIV/AIDS and identifying legal issues faced by persons living with AIDS and vulnerable groups and the challenges in the provision of legal services, and ways to overcome them.

According to Minister of Health, Dr. Douglas Slater, in his keynote address, HIV/AIDS is a disease that challenges the holistic sustainable development of our nations. The effects of stigma and discrimination of persons affected by HIV, however, is probably the No.1 challenge.

He said although there is significant evidence to prove that the anti-retroviral drugs have significantly helped to improve the standard of the lives of those affected, there is still the stigma and discrimination. Part of the stigma he said is due to ignorance, fear, and lack of knowledge.

Dr. Slater said that this problem is even among the health care workers, the very persons who should be dispelling the stigma.

Minister Slater also added that in the Caribbean, men who have sex with men have a hard time coping with the stigma of discrimination and there is the belief that HIV/AIDS is a disease only within this type of relationship. He said that persons with a better understanding of the disease have a responsibility to provide guidance to persons who lack this knowledge.

Participants attending the workshop include lawyers and persons living with HIV/AIDS throughout the Caribbean Region.

The Law, Ethics, and Human Rights Project costs CAN $1.492 million. Funding for the project is provided by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).

The workshop ends on July 21 2006.

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