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    The Scotiabank National Primary Schools HIV and AIDS debate competition is helping students to develop greater sensitivity and empathy for persons affected by the disease, said Relief Manager at the bank’s Mandeville branch, Janet Billings-Frith.
    She was addressing the semi-finals of the competition held on May 13 at the Manchester Club in Mandeville.
    “By targeting primary school children, we have been able to reach a different audience, which was never previously targeted. It has fostered a more effective learning experience, by us presenting the topic of HIV and AIDS awareness in a novel, engaging and interactive way, which creates interest and foster discussion,” Mrs. Billings-Frith stated further.
    More than 139 primary schools across the island are participating in the debate competition, which is being held for the third year. It is in keeping with the Ministry of Education’s policy that every child should be educated on HIV/AIDS.
    “It is raising awareness levels among children and changing attitudes towards persons living with the disease, by fighting stigma and discrimination while promoting healthy lifestyles. The programme has reached parents of the students in the competition, as we recognise that parents also need to be better prepared and coached about how to talk with their children about this issue,” Mrs. Billings-Frith stated.
    At the semi-finals on Wednesday, Anchovy Primary in St. James advanced over the St. Mary-based Bromley All Age, while Willington Primary in St. Thomas triumphed over Christiana Leased Primary in Manchester. Anchovy and Willington will face off at the finals to be held on May 29 at the Pegasus Hotel in Kingston.

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