Minister of Youth, Family and Sports, Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo (FP)??

The new focus on Behaviour Change Communication (BCC) at the National HIV/AIDS Commission (NHAC) was discussed recently when Minister of Youth, Family and Sports, Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo met with new Interim Director of the UNAIDS Regional Support Team, Arek Majszyk, at her Constitution Road office.

While praising Barbados for its multi-sectoral approach to HIV, particularly in the areas of treatment and access, Mr. Majszyk, offered technical assistance to the Ministry and its agencies in formulating prevention campaigns.

Mr. Majszyk, who was accompanied by UNAIDS Country Coordinator for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Reeta Bhatia and Permanent Secretary, Irvine Best, cited?? assistance in formulating BCC-based public education campaigns and the possibility?? of?? facilitating?? a BCC seminar to guide the campaigns of HIV focal points.?? He also urged the Government of Barbados to instigate work on related legislative matters, such as anti-discrimination.

In welcoming the UNAIDS officials, Minister Byer Suckoo gave an overview of the work being done in the field, including developments in relation to discrimination. She pointed out that before legislative changes could be made, there needed to be wide-ranging national debate on this critical issue.

The Minister also welcomed the assistance in BCC, noting this would help the country to meet its World Bank Commitments in support of the National Strategic Plan for HIV Prevention and Control.

The officials also discussed the need for more HIV messages via the media, and for more statistical data on at risk groups, including, but not limited to sex workers.??

Mention was also made of the upcoming United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) report which is due in March of 2010.??

The UNGASS Declaration of Commitment was first signed in 2001 by the 189 United Nation members present at the UNGASS on HIV and AIDS. This signaled their commitment to time-bound attainment targets, as well as a regular process review to ascertain their progress.

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