Officials of the Ministry of Labour’s HIV and AIDS Programme are concerned that some Barbadians are becoming complacent about efforts to halt the spread of the disease and are not seeking access to information which could save their lives.
The Labour Ministry’s Project Coordinator, Rhonda Boucher, said while government had sought to sensitise and educate its citizens through the multi-sectoral HIV and AIDS Programme, there were still several persons who were ???ignorant’ of basic information, such as the modes of transmission of HIV.????
She was speaking following the Ministry’s bus tour entitled "It’s all about HIV/AIDS", which targeted some 60 businesses along the route of Boarded Hall, St. George to Six Roads, St. Philip last week.
During the ???whistle-stop’ tour, ministry officials and peer educators sought to "spread the word" on safe sexual practices by having talks and distributing literature and memorabilia to employees.??
Officials of the Ministry’s Project Unit also conducted a brief survey to ascertain what workers knew of the disease.
"As much information as there is out there, when you actually go to the companies and you talk to the staff members, you realise the information is not reaching as many persons as we would want it to… From the companies we visited, there were quite a number of people who could not answer some of the basic questions on HIV and AIDS," Ms. Boucher observed.
According to her, these results were startling, since the age group primarily affected by the virus 15 to 49 is the bulk of Barbados’ working population.
Ms. Boucher stressed that despite the radio, television and print public service announcements, this meant that stakeholders would have to redouble their efforts and devise new strategies to ensure even more persons have access to relevant information.
She noted that in this regard, the bus tour was vital as it provided an opportunity for ministry officials, peer educators and health care professionals to interface with the public and respond to queries which workers may otherwise be reluctant to ask.
Ms. Boucher also revealed that the Ministry will soon be looking at the legislation on discrimination in the workplace, with particular focus on persons affected by HIV and other life-threatening diseases.
She explained that the process would take some time and until that is completed, the Ministry would be focusing on its?? Policy and Code of Practice on HIV/AIDS and other life threatening illnesses which was launched in October last year.