Research Analyst in the Bureau of Social Policy, Research and Planning,??Andrew Pollard, and Field Investigator??in the Poverty Alleviation Bureau, Caroline King, exchanging views on??"The Pledge", the??Ministry of Social Care’s new venture to bring HIV/AIDS awareness to its agencies and social partners.

Agencies under the Ministry of Social Care, Constituency Empowerment, Urban and Rural Development now have another way of combating the HIV/AIDS pandemic through its newsletter "The Pledge".

Launched today at the Ministry’s Warrens headquarters, the 10-page document is intended to share information among these departments and social partners and provide an avenue for pertinent issues to be brought to their attention. It also serves to encourage greater inter-agency and intra-agency collaboration in HIV programming.

Acting Senior Administrative Officer, Princess Chandler, said the name of the newsletter had more than a symbolic meaning, since it served as a reminder of the commitment made by the National HIV/AIDS Commission "to promote social acceptance and respect for the dignity and rights of all people affected by HIV/AIDS and oppose all forms of AIDS-related stigma and discrimination".??

She explained: "This is a pledge that we have all adopted. But, more importantly, it is a reminder of our commitment to support the expanded response and play our part in combating this pandemic that is challenging our very progress to development."

Pointing out that this first issue was informative and should not be a one-off publication, she urged: "We are encouraging all of our partners to make use of this forum to get the message of HIV/AIDS across. We serve a very vulnerable population who are very high risk to contracting this disease.?? We owe it to them to keep this process going.

"If we do not educate ourselves, we will not be able to educate them. If we are unaware of what each other is doing and what the latest developments are, we would not be able to formulate effective programmes or utilise our scarce resources wisely."

HIV/AIDS Coordinator, Veronica Belle, who was responsible for gathering and putting the information together, said there were some challenges in getting "The Pledge" ready, but it would be published bi-annually, and the second edition should be available in December.????

The first issue includes articles on Drugs and HIV, the Role of Nutrition in the Management of HIV/AIDS, and the Country Assessment of Living Conditions.

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