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JIS News

Plans are being put in place to celebrate World AIDS Day in the parish of Clarendon with a public awareness march, a health exposition and a concert.The activities will be hosted by the Clarendon Health Department in association with the Clarendon Parish AIDS Advisory Association and the Zone 7 Optimist Club.
World AIDS Day will be observed on December 1 under the theme ‘Stop AIDS: Keep the promise, Get tested’. The Clarendon activities will be held at the Bargain Village Shopping Plaza in May Pen, beginning at 9:00 a.m.
In a JIS News interview, health educator for the parish, Carlissa Pearson explained that the day’s activities would focus on testing.
“We commemorate World AIDS Day each year and use the day to heighten public awareness about AIDS, but more significantly this year, in keeping with the global thrust for testing, we will be offering free testing, so it’s not just about public education but it will increase public access to free testing and counselling,” Ms. Pearson explained.
According to the health educator, the educational campaign would also be in full swing with celebrity endorsements coming from Digicel Rising Stars Winners for 2006, One Third, and NATEL, also from that competition.
“These entertainers definitely have an appeal to our young people in particular and we believe that they will be able to take our key messages to them in a creative way,” she said Five messages will be highlighted on that day including: testing and knowing one’s HIV status; correct and consistent condom use; abstinence especially by young people; getting proper treatment; and stigma reduction.
The day’s activities will also include blood pressure checks and educational booths, quiz and deejaying competitions, skits, and giveaways.
A treatment centre was opened at the May Pen Hospital a year ago to cater to the needs of persons living with HIV, providing access to anti-retroviral drugs at a reduced cost or free. There is also a comprehensive treatment programme at the centre.