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Police officers told to be more aware of HIV/AIDS

Police officers told to be more aware of HIV/AIDS

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Given the fact that police officers are considered a ‘high risk’ group when it comes to contracting HIV/AIDS, Inspector of Police Hawkins Nanton says that he believes that the police force should be at the forefront of the fight against the disease.{{more}}

Addressing a two-day training of trainers Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) workshop on Tuesday, for officers in the Royal St Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force, Nanton said that police officers stand a greater chance of being infected by HIV/AIDS.

He also noted that the workshop, held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs conference room and facilitated by the National AIDS Secretariat, was a timely one, which could help officers to understand the implications of promiscuity, and the prevalence of infections.

“Statistics the world over have shown that police officers belong to a high-risk group of people, who run the risk of being infected with HIV/AIDS, as a result of a high level of premarital and extramarital affairs. There is no doubt about this.

“It is a reality where police officers are known throughout the world for having multiple partners, and when you have multiple partners, you run the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS virus, as well as other sexually transmitted diseases,” Nanton stated.

Nanton echoed the sentiment made by Assistant Superintendant of Police Jonathan Nichols, who said earlier, during the opening ceremony of the workshop, that it was important for police officers to understand that HIV/AIDS can create challenges for national security.

The inspector went further to elaborate on the effects from a personal perspective, as well as on a wider scope.

“You have to understand the impact of HIV/AIDS, because we will experience the loss of highly trained police officers. We will also experience a situation where the pool for recruiting police officers will be decreased and most importantly, resources which should have been channelled towards developing other sectors in our country… that money would have to be channelled towards getting anti-retroviral drugs for police officers, and then with all those resources being channelled towards financing health care for police officers who are sick, the police officers on the other hand, they would not be able to function as they would have been able to do if they were healthy.

“Can you imagine large sections of the police force being infected by HIV/AIDS?”

Nanton called on the officers to keep up their guard, and to remain focused and knowledgeable about the issues surrounding HIV/AIDS.

He urged the officers, whom he said were in a position to make a change, to use their roles as leaders of the various Police Youth Clubs around St Vincent and the Grenadines to impact on their families, the youngsters and other officers, the correct information regarding the disease, and also to recognize the rights of persons living with the disease.

“HIV/AIDS represent a significant threat. Most importantly, this session would have helped us to be able to acquire a certain amount of knowledge where we can be able to help young people to make informed decisions about the issue of HIV/AIDS.

“I believe that the NAS will be equipping us with the tools to make correct decisions and it will help us to protect ourselves as front-line police officers, because from time to time, you go out there, you have to face someone who might be infected with HIV/ AIDS, so you will be in a better position to better protect yourselves.

“I am hoping that this workshop will result in a number of police officers going for voluntary testing and result in family members having the desire to know their health status, because this is important… and by so doing, I believe that you will be at the forefront, at the vanguard, leading the charge towards fighting HIV/AIDS and putting SVG on a positive path.”

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