BARBADIANS URGED TO FULLY EMBRACE PERSONS LIVING WITH HIV/AIDS

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Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, Reverend The Hon. Joseph Atherley (at left) speaking with Special Envoy on HIV AIDS for Latin America and the Caribbean, Sir George Alleyne (at right).

Special Envoy on HIV AIDS for Latin America and the Caribbean, Sir George Alleyne and Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, Reverend the Hon. Joseph Atherley are both advocating the notion of inclusiveness as a principle of policy and practice in relation to treatment meted out to those persons living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA).

They subscribed further to the view this should be a philosophy which should be embraced by the wider Barbadian society.

According to Sir George, “the disease continues to spread in Barbados in part, because of AIDS related stigma and discrimination”.

He was speaking during a courtesy call on the Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, Reverend the Hon. Joseph Atherley.

“What’s good about it is that this type of intervention doesn’t require legislative change. It just requires each of us to make a promise in this regard,” Sir George said.

The HIV/AIDS Special Envoy told the Minister of State that “there is a perception in wider society where persons living with HIV as being outside of the circle of care and compassion”.

In agreeing with Sir George, Minister Atherley noted this view did not conflict with Government’s position; and that the principle of inclusiveness is always attached to the provision of any type of social service benefit, or any other benefit which accrue to any group in the community.

 “This policy applies to all persons living with HIV/AIDS and relates to access to treatment and care,” he said.

Speaking about prevention programmes for those incarcerated, the Minister of State posited the view that the time has come for serious consideration to be given to conjugal visits at Government’s lone prison facility.

“People incarcerated still remain male or female and there is no way you can take this right away from them. I am suggesting that the inclusion of conjugal visits is a better solution than condom distribution in prison,” he stated

The UN Special Envoy concurred with this position and noted that it was one that he would support.

Sir George opined that he would like to see in Barbados a rational discourse on these matters without the heat and rancour usually associated with such discussions.

The courtesy call was the first stop on his first official visit to the Barbados National AIDS Programme.

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