Government employees perusing the Code of Practice on HIV/AIDS and Other Life Threatening Illnesses for the Public Sector.
(E. Jones/BGIS)

A new deadline has been set for the Ministry of Labour and Social Security’s HIV and AIDS Poetry Competition. It is now Monday, January 30.??

The annual competition is being held this year under the theme, It’s Time to Kiss Stigma and Discrimination Goodbye and it is open to employees in the public sector, statutory and quasi-governmental organisations.??

Exciting prizes are in store for the first, second and third place winners of the competition, which is now in its fourth year.??The public sector department producing the winning entry will receive a challenge trophy as well as a winner’s trophy.

Individual prizes include a weekend staycation for two at Divi Southwinds for the winner, a Colombian Emeralds Gift Certificate valued at $350 for the person copping second place, while the third place prize is an Atlantis Submarine night dive.??The winners will be awarded individual trophies.

The poetry competition is a part of the Labour Ministry’s outreach programme on HIV and AIDS and persons have the option to review the Code of Practice on HIV/AIDS and other Life Threatening Illnesses for the Public Sector, a book prepared by the Ministry of Labour, in collaboration with its HIV/AIDS Core Group.

The Code states that "the employer undertakes not to stigmatise or discriminate against any employee living with or affected by HIV, AIDS or any other life threatening illness."?? While this applies to all workers, including former and prospective public servants, "Permanent Secretaries, Heads of Departments, Chief Executive Officers and Managers" are to be "responsible for the maintenance of all personal data, including medical information on the employees."

The protection of employees’ entitlements specifically with regards to "job applications, hiring, upgrading, promotion, discharge, discipline, layoffs, compensation, and training," is also addressed.

One of the purposes of the Code is to "promote the development of a supportive, ethical and human rights work environment that protects the fundamental rights and freedoms of workers living with HIV and other life-threatening illnesses."?? Therefore, the Code states how workers should be treated by management and colleagues within the workplace.

One of the guidelines recommends that public sector employees should "refrain from engaging in behaviour, including inappropriate words, comments and actions that annoy, slander or offend", while another guideline states that employees should take advantage of educational opportunities offered by the employer.

A quick browse or a detailed read of the Code of Practice on HIV/AIDS and Other Life Threatening Illnesses for the Public Sector should make persons more aware of ways they could "kiss stigma and discrimination goodbye" as well as provide a wealth of information for contestants entering the HIV and AIDS Poetry Competition.

Interested persons should collect entry forms from the Labour Department and submit their poems to that Department, 2nd Floor East, Warrens Office Complex, Warrens, St. Michael, no later than next Monday, January 30.??

Prizes will be awarded to the first, second and third place winners during the Love Safely Week, which is scheduled for February 13 to 17.??

Those persons seeking further information on the poetry competition and the Code of Practice on HIV/AIDS and Other Life-Threatening Illnesses for the Public Sector are asked to contact Nia Salankey at 310-1517 or or Nicole Hinds at 310-1521 or

Author: Shamkoe Pil??

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