Helping care givers cope with the challenges of dealing with children who have lost a parent through HIV/AIDS will be the main focus of a conference being held next month by the Bereavement Support Services of the National Assistance Board (NAB).

Assistant Director of the NAB, Deiann Sobers, said the conference, entitled “Special Issues and Loss: HIV/AIDS and the Loss of a Significant Parent”, will be held on Wednesday, February 18, at the Hilton Hotel and will run from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

According to her, its objective is to sensitise persons about the challenges that care givers face when parents or guardians die from the disease.

She explained: “For example, grandparents are at times forced to take on the role of raising small children. In turn, the children have to adjust, adapt and cope with these changes. There are usually challenges with discipline and the lack of financial means to support these children.  This can create more children who are “at risk”, which can create delinquency in the community.”

Participants will include representatives of senior citizens, police officers, teachers, guidance counselors, social workers, health care personnel and HIV/AIDS representatives.

The keynote speaker will be Stephen Lewis, Co-Director of AIDS-Free World, a new international advocacy organisation that works to promote more urgent and effective global responses to HIV/AIDS.  In addition to his work with the AIDS-Free World, Mr. Lewis is a Professor in Global Health, Faculty of Social Sciences at McMaster University in Canada. He serves as a member of the Board of Directors of International AIDS Vaccine Initiative and is the chair of the board of the Stephen Lewis Foundation in Canada.  Mr. Lewis is the author of the best-selling book, Race Against Time

On the day, an opening ceremony will be held at 9:00 a.m. and will include a musical presentation by John King, a short presentation by Douglas Williams of the Canadian International Development Agency, and an address by Minister of Social Care, Christopher Sinckler. 

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