JIS News

President of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA), Wayne Cummings, has argued that the only way to overcome the challenges of HIV/AIDS at the workplace is to allow people, especially those at the management level, to become more educated about the disease, so they can respond positively.
“We can try our best to engage members. But if we don’t get into the psyche and the imagination of the most senior people in our associations, businesses or companies, then it is going to be very difficult to get to the people who are asking and who are dying for some information,” Mr. Cummings said.
The President was addressing the closing of an HIV/AIDS project, at the Coyaba Hotel in Montego Bay on June 23.
The project, which was funded by the Caribbean AIDS Alliance, the JHTA and the Department for International Development, lasted for 18 months and was carried out under the theme: ‘Accelerating the Private Sector Response to HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean, With an Emphasis on the Tourist Sector in Jamaica and Barbados’.
Mr. Cummings said that there are line staff and team members who depend on management to make the right decision to put such life skills training into their hotels, but very often it is not done.
“In some of our hotels, we focus very steadfastly on making sure that this is a part of our lifestyle. It is so important that at my level, in the corporate office, that the message is consistent. We do not discriminate. We will not do blood testing because that kind of discrimination is not necessary,” he said.
He said now that the programme has come to its end, organisations and groups must unite in finding a way to fund the project in order that the information and the momentum can continue. “We must find it within our budget to fund this programme going forward,” Mr. Cummings said.
Over the life of the project, some 50 business organisations and companies, including several hotels in Jamaica and across the Caribbean, joined forces to establish leadership advocacy and a support base for persons with HIV/AIDS at the workplace. Each property was mandated to develop a policy and run a programme, whereby core groups of staff members would take the responsibility to educate themselves and to act as watchdogs to ensure that no stigma or discrimination occurred on the property.

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