Officials from the Ministry of Labour’s Project Unit distribute promotional items to workers in the Holetown area.

The Ministry of Labour is reporting further success in its efforts to educate and sensitise the Barbadian workforce concerning issues associated with HIV/AIDS.

Last Friday, officials from the Ministry’s Project Unit hosted a Health Fair at the Supercentre Supermarket in Holetown, St. James, where they visited several businesses in the area to distribute HIV/AIDS information packets.

During the day, there was heavy traffic at the booths as patrons took advantage of the free blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol tests. Literature on HIV/AIDS, promotional items and healthy snacks were also provided for visitors.

Project Coordinator in the Ministry of Labour, Rhonda Boucher, said she was pleased with the response from the workers and business places in Holetown, noting that more Barbadians were showing an interest in getting information on HIV/AIDS and other health related activities.

“This shows that workers have a genuine interest in their health and we want to encourage the business places to have a safety and health programme that speaks to HIV/AIDS and other related issues.”

The Ministry left ‘no stone unturned’ as it also conducted short dramatic presentations on HIV/AIDS awareness and abstinence for students of the St. James Primary and Secondary Schools, which Ms. Boucher described as, “very positive”.
“These students are the future workforce and we must do all we can to ensure that they have the necessary skills and tools to make the right choice. They were quite responsive…The fasting growing age group in terms of the incidence of HIV AIDS is between15-29 and we thought it necessary to target and educate persons from early. We hope that they will act on the positive message of abstinence,” Ms. Boucher explained.

This latest venture from the Ministry of Labour follows a successful ‘whistle-stop’ tour in January of several businesses along the Lears, St. Michael to Constant, St. George route to promote HIV/AIDS awareness.

According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the HIV/AIDS epidemic, “has already caused substantial labour force losses and will, unless counteracted, continue to reduce labour force growth in many developing countries.”

The ILO added that “HIV/AIDS threatens the livelihoods of many workers and those who depend on them – families, communities and enterprises. In doing so, it also weakens national economies.

UNAIDS reports that in the Caribbean in 2007, an estimated 230 000 people were living with HIV, while an estimated 20 000 were newly infected, and some 14 000 died of AIDS-related illnesses.

Worldwide, it estimates that in 2007, some 33 million people were living with HIV while there were 2.7 million new HIV infections and 2 million AIDS-related deaths last year.

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