Minister of Social Care, Christopher Sinckler

The Ministry of Social Care is intensifying its efforts to reach persons with disabilities (PWDs) in its fight to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS among this "vulnerable group".

This was revealed today by Minister of Social Care, Christopher Sinckler, who was speaking at the opening of an HIV/AIDS Orientation and Behavioural Change Workshop at the Savannah Hotel.

He said the feedback received about PWDs and HIV/AIDS was a cause for concern, and his Ministry had been motivated "to redouble our efforts to reach this vulnerable group of persons, especially those who are intellectually challenged".??

Noting that the workshop was one such effort, Minister Sinckler stated that the presence of participants showed their commitment in helping the Ministry to address a situation, which, if ignored, "could have devastating consequences for persons with disabilities, their families and the wider community".

He disclosed that other efforts to fight the spread of the pandemic among PWDs included working with agencies and partners, such as the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development, to create more appropriate material on sexuality and HIV/AIDS for persons with disabilities.?? Minister Sinckler also said that sessions on HIV/AIDS and sexuality issues would be conducted for both children and parents of children with disabilities, using the materials that would emerge from the workshop.

Stating that the Ministry was fully committed to the fight against the spread of HIV, Mr. Sinckler said it would do all within its power to improve the quality of life for persons infected or affected by the disease.?? "As a result, every effort will be made to ensure that persons in need are able to access and benefit from the social support services provided by our agencies," he stressed.

The Minister further revealed plans that would be implemented during the fiscal year 2009-2010 in the Ministry’s overall fight against the disease. These include training sessions to sensitise staff on issues such as stigma and discrimination and HIV/AIDS in the workplace, training to assist clients to care for family and others infected by AIDS, workshops on care and counselling and peer counselling, and drama productions to express the serious impact of HIV/AIDS on individuals and families.

He said that information on HIV/AIDS programmes and current related issues from agencies and their social partners would be disseminated through the "PLEDGE" newsletter, whose name was chosen to represent the commitment that persons made, some eight years ago, to assist the fight against AIDS.???? In addition, he stated that the Ministry would be the sponsor of a Rally and Health Fair, the main activity to mark International Awareness Day on December 1.??This event will be held in the Jubilee Gardens, The City, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

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