Barbados Prime Minister Calls for HIV/AIDS Tolerance in the Region


Prime Minister of Barbados, Owen Arthur, has made a call for the creation of a Caribbean society in which stigma and discrimination against those infected and affected by the HIV/AIDS disease have been ‘dethroned’ and replaced by compassion and care.
“Throughout the Caribbean region, people living with HIV/AIDS face enormous hostility meted out to them by their brothers and sisters within the region. I however believe that we stand on the threshold of a new era of enlightened understanding that will bring to the Caribbean the greatest gift of all, a society where stigma and discrimination have been dethroned by compassion and tangible care for those living with HIV/AIDS,” Mr. Arthur said.
He was addressing the official launch of the new international United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) Best Practice titled ‘A study of the Pan Caribbean Partnership against HIV/AIDS: common goals, shared responses’ at the Half Moon Hotel in Montego Bay on Monday (December 13).
The Barbadian Prime Minister observed that unless persons were prepared to challenge themselves to do better and become more tolerant towards victims of the disease, then they could not morally challenge others to do so.
“If we cannot extend the hand of compassion to those adults who are living with the disease and struggle with the negative social responses as a daily feature of their lives, how can we even begin to reach out to the children and the orphans who also face these challenges? What examples are we setting for our children and youth if intolerance becomes our defining standards?” Prime Minister Arthur questioned.
He stressed that as a people, Caribbean nations should not allow intolerance in any form and should strive rather ‘to become a more compassionate people and lead the world by example in this regard’ thereby becoming each other’s keepers.
He also hailed the efforts of other Caribbean leaders who he said had continued to give exemplary service in the fight against HIV/AIDS in the region.
“Recognizing that the success in reducing the incidence of HIV/AIDS infection throughout the region is directly related to the demonstration of political commitment at the highest level, Dr. Denzil Douglas, Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, willingly agreed to assume lead responsibility in the region for HIV/AIDS. He has so far been providing extraordinary service in the region in this crucial respect,” Mr. Arthur stated.

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