Minister of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs, Cynthia Forde. (FP)

Minister of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs, Cynthia Forde, today appealed to older men in Barbados to play their part in stemming the tide of violence in some communities by mentoring young people, especially boys.

Speaking at the opening of an HIV seminar for men 50 years and older and their sons, hosted by the National Assistance Board at Accra Beach Hotel, Minister Forde urged the men present to work hand in hand with women to raise strong families.  “We must inculcate in our children that they must not seek the route of violence to resolve conflict,” she said.

She told the audience that increased incidents of violence were being experienced across the Caribbean with Trinidad and Tobago recording 66 murders so far this year.

Emphasizing the value of the recent Weekend of Prayer and Reflection initiative mounted by her Ministry, she called on the people of Barbados, and especially the churches, to continue the effort, praying for “a balm of peace and safety to envelop Barbados”.

Addressing the focus of the seminar, Minister Forde stressed to her audience the importance of being tested for HIV.

She observed: “Research has shown that the older adult is less likely than young persons to get tested, so they may not know that they have HIV as the aches and pains of normal aging as well as other attendant diseases can mask the signs of HIV/AIDS.”

Noting that most HIV surveillance systems did not include people over 50 years, Ms. Forde said that services would need to be expanded to address the specific needs of members of this grouping who were living with HIV.

Preventative measures would also have to be put in place for people in this age group who did not have HIV, but were still sexually active, she proposed.

“More effort must be made to collect data on older populations to understand the impact of HIV on those infected as well as those affected, whether it is partners, families or friends,” the Minister concluded.

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