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SDA joins in fight against HIV/AIDS

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The fight against HIV/AIDS in St. Vincent and the Grenadines is being given a boost by a major project spearheaded by The SVG Region of Seventh Day Adventists in conjunction with the World Bank and the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.{{more}}

The one year initiative, which will be executed throughout 2009, is estimated to cost $112,362.

After negotiating for approximately four years and a half, The SVG Region of Seventh Day Adventists entered into contractual arrangements with the National AIDS Secretariat and the Ministry of Health for the implementation of the project which will focus on the Prevention and Control of AIDS, in which the church will contribute $25,385, and the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the World Bank, $86,977.

Dr. Amrie Morris-Patterson, Senior Registrar at the Mental Health Centre, giving an overview of the project dubbed ‘The Seventh Day Adventist HIV/AIDS Response’, said the Seventh Day Adventist Church was successful in establishing the contract after responding to an advertisement in the newspaper calling on faith based organizations to join with the Ministry of Health to help spread the message on the issue of HIV/AIDS.

At the launch of the project held at the Operation Victory Crusade on Sunday, January 11, 2009, at Diamond, Dr. Morris-Patterson said the project is being launched at a time when the leading cause of death in the 25 to 44 age group is HIV/AIDS.

“This project represents an opportunity for us as a church, but also all people of faith and our communities for us to look again at what is going on around us, and to help to define what our role is in helping to counteract the HIV/AIDS pandemic,” said Dr. Morris-Patterson.

The project is an information, education, and communication project, which does not currently have a direct involvement of persons living with HIV/AIDS.

Dr. Morris Patterson said the SDA church sees the project as a springboard into future projects where the church will have direct involvement with those living with HIV/AIDS.

The project involves training of the 11 Pastors representing the 40 Seventh Day Adventist churches in St. Vincent and the Grenadines; two training camps for 200 youths as peer councillors between the ages of 13-18; a single’s retreat; marriage seminars to promote the idea of fidelity and faithfulness to partners, and two parents’ workshops which will seek to help enhance their skills in teaching their children values and how that relates to their sexuality.

Dr. Morris-Patterson added that there will also be three concerts to deal with the issue of stigma and discrimination.

Meanwhile, at the opening of the AIDS Prevention and Control Workshop, sponsored by the National AIDS Secretariat/Ministry of Health and the SVG Region of Seventh Day Adventists on Monday, January 12, 2009, at the Mount Moriah SDA Development Youth Centre, Pastor Dermoth Baptiste, Co-ordinator of the SVG Region of Seventh Day Adventists, warned that HIV/AIDS and its transmission, if not curbed, threatens to decimate an entire generation and create social problems for Government and Civil Society, including the church.

“The church’s response to AIDS must be compassionate, comprehensive, caring and redemptive.

We must love the AIDS victim, sit with them, pray with them, shake their hands, hug them, bring hope and comfort to them and seek to satisfy their needs as far as is humanly possible,” said Pastor Baptiste. (HN)

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