Deaf Community Benefits from UNESCO-Sponsored HIV/AIDS Workshop


Some 20 deaf peer educators in Manchester have been armed with the skills and techniques to help to reduce the vulnerability of the deaf community to HIV/AIDS.
At a five-day workshop, held at the Caribbean Christian Centre for the Deaf in Knockpatrick, the educators learnt counselling techniques and how to use cultural tools, such as dance, in the education process.
It was sponsored by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), as part of a Caribbean-wide HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention project, which involves collaboration with the Jamaica Association for the Deaf (JAD).
UNESCO Project Co-ordinator for the Caribbean, Yolanda Duran-McKlmon, informed that Jamaica is one of six countries in the region to benefit from the project, which involves a cultural approach to HIV/AIDS prevention and education among vulnerable groups.
“Many of the UN (United Nations) agencies are supporting work in HIV and AIDS, however, UNESCO is uniquely positioned in that (we) can use culture as a tool to reach the deaf community,” she pointed out.
Mrs. McKlmon informed that the project will be supported by UNESCO for two years in Jamaica at a cost of US$15,000 and “it is our hope to continue working with the Jamaica Association for the Deaf (JAD) and other organisations, as we support this type of project throughout the Caribbean.”
Other key agencies in the project are the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) and Jamaica AIDS Support for Life.
Assistant Training Officer at JAD, Debbie Kennewell, in the meantime, informed that workshop participants are expected to set up HIV awareness programmes as well as stage dance productions in the schools that they work.
“For next year’s (Deaf Dance Competition), the theme will be about HIV. Their responsibility is to go back and set up training with the children and share ideas about HIV messages in the schools,” she said.
The 2010 Deaf Dance Competition will focus on dance skit entries that carry HIV/AIDS prevention messages. The winning entries will be shared at the community level in key cities and towns, for the promotion of HIV/AIDS awareness among members of the deaf community.
A high number of deaf persons have contracted HIV/AIDS, or are at risk of infection, due to their involvement in risky activities, as well as the fundamental lack of factual and comprehensive information surrounding the issue of HIV/AIDS at the community level.

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