Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, The Honourable Reverend Joseph Atherley

Government’s latest HIV/AIDS sensitisation effort has been termed a “timely and well focused tool”. That was the observation of Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, Reverend Joseph Atherley, who was speaking today at United Nations House during the launch of the radio drama “Consequences”, a Barbados Government Information Service (BGIS) production.

The drama focuses on the impact of the HIV/AIDS pandemic on the lives of a number of young adults, all university students. It has been described as “a graphic portrayal of lies, lust, deception, love and forgiveness”.

Reverend Atherley noted that even though government had shared lots of information with respect to HIV/AIDS, it (government) had, however, been unable to be totally effective in educating certain persons.

“I hold a view that public dissemination of information is not necessarily effective public education and a lot of the information shared does not inform, because it comes in the wrong format. It is a message which is irrelevant, because it is given at the wrong time or to the wrong target group, or is released in the wrong way,” he said.

Minister Atherley noted that this “tool” (the radio drama) would further help government to get across the message and address the matter of behavioural change.

“We can bring legislative or regulatory response to bear upon the situation, but I believe we need to go beyond that and also bring the public education response to bear upon those situations.
A tool like this, once we talk about this and get it out in the open in a popular format, get the message clearly transmitted to those target audiences that ought to be primarily in our focus, then it would help us to reduce the problem of discrimination, abandonment and stigmatisation,” he noted.

The radio drama, which should be on the airways by mid-August, is but one part of a wider public education programme by the BGIS to effect behavioural change as it relates to HIV/AIDS.

Chief Information Officer, Jacqui Wiltshire, said “BGIS has been exploring non-traditional methods of media for public service communication. We have a Youth Interactive Programme which uses digital media for peer messaging, and we are preparing to work with even younger age groups beginning with self-esteem, confidence and choice making.”

She said: “Consequences” is an absorbing, yet entertaining production for young people, written by young people; but imbedded are “our efforts to truly connect and make a difference”.   


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