Director of the National HIV/AIDS Commission, Jacqueline Wiltshire-Gay

The HIV/AIDS Food Bank and Personal Development Centre is a critical component in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Director of the National HIV/AIDS Commission, Jacqueline Wiltshire-Gay, made this assertion today as she addressed the official opening of that facility at Ladymeade Gardens.??

She noted that the impact and spread of HIV and AIDS directly affected all communities and required a strengthened and collective response to stop the spread of HIV infection, provide care to those infected and affected, and eliminate the shameful stigma and discrimination associated with AIDS.??

Mrs. Wiltshire-Gay said: "We know that generally people who are ill have difficulty working and HIV/AIDS can bring with it a series of nutritional dysfunctions….???? Additionally individuals, families and communities are not only impacted by the symptoms of HIV and AIDS, but are affected by the disruptive symptoms of prejudice, stigma and discrimination."

She added that there was always cause for hope with initiatives such as "the opening of a building that caters to education and the provision of support services for persons infected and affected by HIV/AIDS".

Vashti Inniss, after whom the Personal Development Centre is named, echoed similar sentiments and said:?? "The Food Bank has served multiple purposes in addition to what was intended. It has given the individual the chance to make their contribution.?? It has brought the private sector on board, without fanfare, churches show their love and concern and community outreach for the Food Bank continues to highlight the ongoing epidemic, and how others can assist.

"As a country, Barbados is likely to be judged on the way we treat our most vulnerable in society and this reflects on us as a people. Persons living with HIV disease are people too."

Ms. Inniss, who was described by Health Minister, Donville Inniss, as "a committed advocate for the empowerment of people infected or affected by HIV in Barbados", retired as a Health Education Officer working with the AIDS Management Team, Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

She was responsible for initiating activities which led to the conceptualising of the HIV/AIDS Food Bank.

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