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The 2005 Workplace Mass Media Campaign was officially launched today (August 18), under the National HIV/STI Control Programme.
The campaign, which is themed: ‘Defend the rights of others and protect your own’, is targeting persons in the workforce population, aged 15 to 49, and was developed based on the guidelines of the National HIV/AIDS Policy and the Draft National HIV/AIDS Workplace Policy.
This campaign features three core messages aimed at increasing awareness about the rights of employees to be recruited and continued employment regardless of their perceived or real HIV status, its call of action being: “Support workers living with HIV. Start or join a workplace programme now”.
Chairman of the National AIDS Committee and Public Defender, Howard Hamilton speaking at the launch, said the engagement of the media in the campaign formed a crucial part of the national response as HIV/AIDS was a developmental issue and needed to be normalized and made a part of regular public discussion.
While noting that the involvement of persons living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) must be made a part of the national response, Mr. Hamilton pointed out that much success was not being experienced in this area because of the stigma and discrimination surrounding the disease.
The Public Defender said it was hoped that through the National Policy and supporting legislative action, an enabling environment free of stigma and discrimination could be created. He noted that such an achievement would improve access to prevention knowledge, skills for the infected and the affected and improve access to treatment, care and support.
Mr. Hamilton said while the campaign was not an end in itself, its messages would serve to, among other things, keep the issue on the public agenda over time, support other workplace interventions and remind persons to support persons living with HIV by starting or joining workplace programmes.
An estimated 22,000 persons are living with HIV in Jamaica. Of that number, 65 per cent do not know that they are HIV positive because they have never been tested.
Statistics show that the 15 to 49 age group, which is the age cohort most affected, is also the age group representing the largest number of persons comprising the reproductive population and of persons reported with HIV/AIDS.
The campaign, which was developed by Dunlop Corbin Communications, is composed of messages for television, radio, newspaper, billboards, bus panels, novelties and office posters.