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Teachers’ Union unveils billboard

Teachers’ Union unveils billboard

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The St. Vincent & the Grenadines Teachers’ Union recently unveiled a billboard to declare its involvement in the fight against HIV and AIDS.{{more}}

Last Friday, January 21, several members of the SVGTU, along with students from the Intermediate High School and members of the media, were present at the unveiling ceremony, which took place at the SVGTU Headquarters at McKie’s Hill.

The event, which was chaired by SVGTU public relations officer Vibert Lampkin, saw brief remarks from several key figures within the SVGTU, the Gender Committee and the National AIDS Secretariat.

SVGTU president Ronald Clarke said: “The SVGTU has seen it necessary and urgent enough… to have partnership with the Ministry of Health and other stakeholders, to help to spread the message – to help reduce the incidence of discrimination.”

Clarke warned that stigma and discrimination against those who are affected by the disease force individuals to hide their positive status, and not help to disseminate information that could assist in curbing the spread of the disease.

He said that discrimination also discourages other from getting tested and knowing their status.

“It puts our nation at risk!”

Clarke also pointed out: “Long gone are the days when persons felt that this was just a problem for a certain section of society. Today, it’s a problem for us all.”

Sidney ‘Pumpkin’ Joseph, a peer communicator with the National AIDS Secretariat, also gave brief remarks.

“I endorse the effort of the Teachers’ Union!” he affirmed.

Joseph, who runs a support group and is HIV positive, was overcome with emotion at the gesture.

“More people should get on board with this, because the only treatment for stigma and discrimination is education.”

Oswald Robinson, public relations officer of the Gender Committee (within the SVGTU) and former SVGTU president, explained that the organisation has hosted several workshops about the prevention and management of HIV/AIDS – with financial assistance from Education International and the National AIDS Secretariat. The workshops have been held throughout the mainland, and on Bequia and Union Island.

Robinson also spoke of the adoption of the Greater Involvement of Persons living with or affected by HIV/AIDS (GIPA) principle, which was developed in 1983 at a National AIDS Conference in Colorado, USA.

Robinson said that the principle “allows people living with HIV/AIDS to use their experiences and the challenges they face in their communities… to plan programmes in collaboration with such persons [groups and institutions] to reduce stigma, discrimination and other social ills”.

“It [the principle] called for increased involvement… at all levels of decision-making,” he added.

Robinson also explained that those affected by HIV/AIDS – whether they suffer from the virus or have a close connection with those who do – are better equipped to warn others about the disease. (JV)

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