Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Derrick Kellier, is urging employees to take charge of their sex lives by using a condom, getting an HIV test, and reducing the number of sex partners, to prevent HIV/AIDS.
He said that HIV/AIDS has been described by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) as a major threat to the world of work, affecting the most productive segments of the labour force.
Minister Kellier, who was addressing an HIV Awareness in the Workplace awards ceremony, held at the Ministry’s North Street Office in Kingston, on February 16, emphasised the importance of practising safe sex, as the best responsible action to reduce the risk of transmission.
“Recently, the Ministry of Health revealed the worrying news that younger females within the age group 10 to 29 years are contracting HIV/AIDS, with the 15-19 group accounting for the major increase. Concurrently, adult males in the 30-79 age group account for a larger percentage of those contracting the disease,” he said.
Against this background, Mr. Kellier said it is imperative that each staff member plays his or her part to curb the rising HIV endemic, by acting responsibly.
“For those who are HIV negative, a regular test is the only way to be continuously certain of one’s status,” he informed. He added that for persons infected with the virus, early diagnosis can help to increase their chance of a longer life, by accessing adequate treatment.
The Minister told JIS News that many of the individual choices that persons make after work, seriously impact their ability to be healthy at the workplace and to function productively.
Importantly, Mr. Kellier warned that having multiple sex partners, without using a condom, increases the risk of HIV/AIDS and other Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs). He urged employees to reject the present culture, which endorses multiple sex partners.
“If as a nation we are to improve the quality of life for all, then as a nation we need to reduce the high level of risks that result in life threatening illnesses, such as HIV/AIDS,” he emphasised.
Mr. Kellier said the Labour Ministry, which is the lead agency for the implementation of the National HIV/AIDS Workplace Policy, remains committed to sensitising its employees and partners about the importance of taking charge of their sex lives.
The awards ceremony formed part of Safer Sex Week, currently being observed from February 13-18, under the theme: ‘Tek charge! Condom: check HIV Test: check Less Partners: check’.
The competition, which was held last year internally, tested the effectiveness of staff members in disseminating information about Life Threatening Illnesses (LTIs), such as HIV/AIDS, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and hepatitis.
By Jeneva Gordon, JIS PRO