Minister of Commerce and Trade, Senator Haynesly Benn????

Heroes Square, the City, was the site of the Ministry of Commerce’s second annual Health Fair; and the importance of HIV awareness continued to be one of its main themes.

The event was officially opened by Minister of Commerce and Trade, Senator Haynesly Benn , who declared that his Ministry fully supported all the initiatives being executed by the National HIV/AIDS Commission. He noted: "We should constantly remember that they alone cannot bring about change. HIV is everybody’s business and we must strive to be our brother’s keeper and assist with bringing about the change needed".

Citing the Commission’s introduction of a Civil Society Organisation (CSO) grant system, Senator Benn observed that its creation would see "more Barbadians engaging in various initiatives to educate their fellow brother or sister about HIV, and also give them a sense of ownership of the HIV programme implementation". He said he had been advised that several applications for grants had already been received, with projects focusing on key, high-risk populations, such as out of school and unemployed youth and migrant populations.

In saluting the efforts of Parliamentarians, the Commerce Minister remarked that they "have pledged their support to addressing HIV at a community level through their constituencies and in collaboration with civil society organisations working in HIV". He also highlighted the ???Let the Men Talk’ series, which had its most recent discussion last evening at Solidarity House.

"The topic for the night was AIDS, Age and Sex, and the event was exclusively for men to discuss the topic in an informal and uninhibited atmosphere…Such men’s fora give Barbadian men the opportunity to speak out on issues pertinent to them such as: HIV, family law, child custody and child support, divorce settlements, domestic violence laws, and sexual harassment laws," he observed.

Senator Benn also revealed that Barbados’ efforts in addressing the HIV pandemic had been recognised internationally, with the country receiving an Americas Award at the Americas Competitiveness Forum held in the Dominican Republic last October.?? The Commerce Minister recently served as the governmental representative at the Forum, and received the award on behalf of Minister of Family, Culture, Sports and Youth, Stephen Lashley.

The Ministry of Commerce is a member of the expanded response group which assists the Commission in sensitising persons about HIV.??


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