Facilitator of the HIV sensitisation workshop, Arlene Husbands, addressing officials of the Ministry of Housing and Lands.

Heads of Department of the Ministry of Housing and Lands and the National Housing Corporation (NHC) on Monday, March 23, described the HIV sensitisation workshop, organised by newly appointed HIV/AIDS Coordinator, Francia Best, as a worthwhile reminder of the effects of stigma and discrimination.

The half-day workshop focused on HIV and AIDS as a workplace issue, and the causes and effects of stigma and discrimination. Facilitator, Arlene Husbands, Programme Coordinator of the National HIV/AIDS Workplace Programme of the Barbados Employers’ Confederation, took the managers through a comprehensive and thought-provoking session. 

In the opening remarks, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Housing and Lands, Edison Alleyne, deemed the workshop as “very important”. 

“HIV and AIDS training must be constantly reinforced, as it is human nature to forget,” he asserted. Mr. Alleyne also took the opportunity to reinforce the Ministry’s plans to fast-track assistance to vulnerable members of the society, including creating housing solutions for members of the public affected by HIV and AIDS.

According to the Programme Coordinator, “persons spend an enormous amount of time in the workplace, so it is therefore imperative that managers understand stigma and discrimination and make a difference in the response to HIV by looking out for one another.”  She also encouraged the newly appointed HIV coordinator and the managerial staff to create targeted awareness campaigns for their employees as has been done by the hospitality and banking sectors. 

The Barbados Employers Confederation plays a key role in sensitising employers to their responsibility to educate their personnel about health and safety issues, in order to create a better understanding of co-workers who may be infected with HIV.

This is the first event organised by Ms. Best, who is the fifth full-time HIV Coordinator to be assigned to the Civil Service.


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