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By driving the problem underground, HIV?AIDS is allowed fertile ground

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Stigma and discrimination is a major obstacle to effective prevention, treatment and care of HIV/AIDS in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

With this in mind, steps were taken this week at a workshop held at the Ministry of Health to develop a National Communication Strategy and Implementation Plan on HIV/AIDS related stigma

and discrimination which will be integrated into the National Aids Programme of this country.

Workshop facilitator, Dr. Rovin Deodat, Communication Consultant with the Guyana based CARICOM/ Pan Caribbean partnership against HIV/AIDS (PANCAP) project said that when stigma is translated to fear, we create “untouchables … and put ourselves in danger by not acknowledging there is a problem…. By driving the problem underground, HIV/AIDS is then allowed fertile ground to spread without our knowledge.” {{more}}

Addressing the gathering of stakeholders which included representatives of Government ministries, non-Governmental organizations, and faith based organizations, Dr. Deodat stressed that it was crucial that we rationally and consciously know what is going on with respect to HIV/AIDS in our country. That was the only way he opined, that we could achieve greater control and prevention of HIV/AIDS. Explaining, he said if we can lessen to a great degree stigma and discrimination, what would happen is more people would come forward to be tested.

The workshop which was held on Tuesday and Wednesday was sponsored by the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the CARICOM/ PANCAP project.

The opening ceremony was also addressed by Health Educator Patsy Wyllie,

representative of PANCAP Ayana Hypolite, Senior Assistant Secretary in the Ministry of Health Odette Barrow and Social Worker Roselle Solomon.

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