Barbadians are being urged to take a stand and support the National HIV/AIDS Commission’s newest initiative to ???kiss stigma and discrimination goodbye’.

A year-long campaign will be launched by the Commission in Jubilee Gardens on Saturday, February 19, from 2:00 to 6:00 p.m.

The promotion is aimed at sensitising Barbadians about the consequences of HIV-related stigma and discrimination and the importance of protecting the human rights and dignity of most at-risk populations.????

Director of the Commission, Jacqueline Wiltshire Gay, underscored the importance of this project, stating that while significant strides had been made in treatment and care, there had not been as much success with prevention. According to her, this is, to a large extent, the consequence of stigma and discrimination.

"Stigma and discrimination fuel the epidemic and hamper prevention and care efforts by sustaining silence and denial about HIV, as well as marginalising those particularly vulnerable to infection.

Since the virus is linked to social taboos, there are enormous levels of ignorance, denial, fear and intolerance about the disease in most communities. It is partly because of these fears that people end up treating others in a shameful manner and developing certain prejudices," she explained.

??Mrs. Wiltshire Gay said the multi-pronged/multi-targeted campaign was critical, since stigma and discrimination interfered with the programme of prevention, care and support for those Barbadians who most need it.

The campaign will be launched during Love Safely Week, which will officially begin on Sunday, February 13. Love Safely Week is planned each year around Valentine’s Day, which is observed on February 14.??

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