Affiliates and staff who have contributed to the Ministry of Labour???s HIV and AIDS Education Programme over the years, were formally recognised Saturday night during an appreciation ceremony at the Accra Beach Hotel, Hastings, Christ Church.

Addressing the awardees and well-wishers, Minister of Labour, Senator Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo, praised the Ministry???s efforts to help create a supportive, ethical environment for all workers and to reduce the vulnerability of the formal and informal sectors of the workforce, to HIV and AIDS.

She observed that ???it is through the commitment of our dedicated committee and support staff that our educational programme, which has several components including training, community outreach, policy and research, continues to be successful.

A major focus of the educational programme is to sensitise persons about the issue of stigma and discrimination and the associated prevention strategies,??? she said, adding that those who were more educated about an illness were less likely to discriminate than those who were misinformed.

This fact, Minister Byer Suckoo explained, led the Ministry to establish a training peer education programme for public and private workers in 2007. ???Each one, reach one, teach one, that is what peer education ideally seeks to do???Collaborations and partnerships have been a major plank of the Ministry???s programme over the years???In addition to the organizations on our committee, the Ministry has [also] had a longstanding partnership with the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation in hosting outreach programmes to the workers in the industrial estates,??? Senator Byer Suckoo said, adding that similar efforts had been made in the agricultural industry.

???To date, over 800 workers have received HIV testing,??? the Labour Minister revealed, ??????I am aware that more needs to be done socially. That is why, as Minister, I am committing again to bringing the Anti-Discrimination in the Workplace legislation. We will dare to care, for those persons in the work place infected and affected by HIV and AIDS.???

Among the recipients of special awards were: Dr. Hendrick Ellis, Professor Timothy Roach, Maureen Grant, Orlando ???Gabby??? Scott, Ingrid Hope and Patricia Philips.??Barbados??? multi -sectoral National HIV/AIDS response was established in 2001, with free anti retroviral therapy introduced in that same year.

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