Spoken word artiste Adrian Green performs at Love Poetry and Song. (J. Hall/BGIS)

Local artistes and cultural practitioners have been challenged to keep HIV awareness uppermost in their minds.

Minister of Culture, Stephen Lashley, issued this call last Saturday at Love Poetry and Song, a Barbados Government Information Service (BGIS) initiative, which was held at the Barbados Museum, to observe Love Safely Week.?? All proceeds from the event will be donated to assist the HIV Food Bank.

Mr. Lashley said sensitisation of the disease should be a priority for artistes. "When you pen your songs, poems or pieces or drama, remember wherever possible and practical, to incorporate information on how Barbadians can play their part in the response to HIV and AIDS.

"Your message must be clear, concise and convincing.?? It must make people want to take a stand against this scourge, to raise their own awareness of the facts, and to know their HIV status," he stated.

The Minister suggested that the artistes should come together and organise themselves into an official association, adding it would enable them to have an even greater impact on the fight against HIV and AIDS.

According to him, the records showed that about 3,426 persons were living with HIV. But, he pointed out that there were many others with the disease, including some who were not even aware of their status because they had not yet been tested.

Mr. Lashley urged entertainers to utilise the National HIV/AIDS Commission’s Civil Society Organisation grant system. He explained that the grant system had been structured to see more Barbadians engaging in various interventions to educate others about the virus and also give them a sense of ownership of the HIV programme implementation.

He disclosed that several applications for grants had already been received with projects focusing on key populations at higher risk.

The Minister said persons must educate themselves about the disease and talk frankly to their children. "Do not leave them to hear about it from strangers.?? Let us take responsibility for our own lives in this regard," he urged.

Mr. Lashley commended the BGIS staff for hosting the event, saying the organisation was one of the very active partners in the National HIV/AIDS Programme. He listed some of the activities BGIS had coordinated over the years as the radio drama and comic strip Consequences, the children’s book Sticks and Stones, and a Recycling Drive, which raises funds for the HIV Food Bank.


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