Minister of Social Care, Steve Blackett (FP)

Approximately 308 persons living with HIV receive national assistance through the Welfare Department’s care and support programme.

Minister of Social Care, Steve Blackett made this disclosure today while speaking at a seminar hosted by the Ministry, in association with the National Assistance Board Bereavement Support Services. The one day event, which was held at the Savannah Hotel, was entitled Let’s Not Discriminate, and is part of the continuing series Special Issues and Loss: When Loss Comes.

In an effort to highlight his Ministry’s commitment to the ongoing fight against discrimination of persons living with the virus, Minister Blackett said that assistance is provided in the form of food vouchers and the payment of house rents and utility bills, among other things.

He stressed that "these are interventions of stabilisation, without which, many persons living with HIV could not survive." He further stated that "they are also manifestations of initiatives that minimise marginalisation".

The Minister also alluded to Persons with Disabilities who are infected with HIV. He noted that those persons were not only faced with battling the stigma associated with having a disability, but also the discrimination which accompanies the HIV virus.

"…Efforts?? are being made to take the message of HIV and HIV discrimination to this community by utilising all available media, including the converting mechanism provided through technology, which permits regular print to be converted to Braille for access by the blind and visually impaired," the Social Care Minister explained.

Minister Blackett pointed out that although equal opportunities should be provided, discrimination does not allow it.

"Voluntary testing to determine one’s HIV status must be encouraged and access to treatment allowed in an atmosphere where persons can feel comfortable. Carrying the HIV virus in secret and receiving no assistance will not help the cause. Let us strive to make discrimination a thing of the past," Mr. Blackett asserted.


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