Barbados has seen a gradual downward trend in the rate of new HIV infections, and a reduction in the number of AIDS-related deaths, but ???the fight is not over???.
Minister of Social Care, Constituency Empowerment and Community Development, Steven Blackett, made this assertion last Saturday at the Red Ribbon Awards Ceremony marking the 15th Anniversary of the National HIV/AIDS Commission, at Almond Bay, Christ Church.
The ceremony was also used to recognise and honour a number of unsung heroes who played their part in the National AIDS Programme, and contributed to the fight against the disease.
???HIV remains a significant challenge because it mainly affects adults between the ages of 15 and 49 who constitute the most productive workforce…There are a number of key populations who have heightened vulnerability to HIV infection and addressing the needs of these groups lies at the heart of this new fight,??? Mr. Blackett explained.
Addressing the awardees, he stated: ???For 15 years, you have given your utmost in an effort of showing compassion to those infected and affected by HIV. You have gone above and beyond the call of duty and through it all you have remained committed to ensuring that your input, your interaction, your invaluable time would bring solace to those with who you came into contact.???
While the Minister acknowledged that the tokens they received were ???no way near the true value??? of what they deserved, he pointed out that their reward came from ???seeing another family fed, seeing children attend school regularly and well attired, and ensuring that a roof is over the head of someone who is less fortunate???.
He emphasised the need for more ???devoted individuals??? to follow in their footsteps, and work with the National AIDS Programme to ???wrestle HIV to the ground???.