Red Cross HIV/AIDS Anti- Stigma Campaign gets Underway in Manchester

The Jamaica Red Cross’ campaign to reduce the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS got underway in Manchester on Tuesday (Feb. 27), with a public education session at the Comfort Community Centre.
The national campaign, which will last until October, is being carried out through funding from the United States Ambassadors Fund, and comprise island wide community sensitization sessions to educate persons about the disease.
The aim is to reduce the level of stigma and discrimination experienced by persons living with HIV and AIDS, so that they will be able to live normal lives and be able to access all the relevant resources such as education and health.
HIV Youth Coordinator for Manchester, Michaela Cameron-Wilson, explained that during the two to three hour education sessions, “we’ll be offering HIV testing, demonstrating how to use safer sex techniques, as well as informing the public on the transmission of HIV and discrimination attached to it”.
She said that through the campaign, the hope was to encourage more persons to get tested for HIV, noting that while “there are 25,000 people, who are presumed to have HIV, some 15,000 don’t know their status”. In addition, she pointed out, because of discrimination associated with the disease, “there are many who know their status, who are afraid to get the medical attention they need, whether through home-based care or medication”.
The sessions continue on March 16 at the Devon Skills Training Centre; March 23 at the Grove Town Remnant Church; April 4 in Porus; April 17 in Crofts Hill; April 18 in Bellefield; and on April 21 in Coley Mountain.
The campaign will move to Clarendon in May, where more than 14 communities will be targeted including, James Hill, Trout Hall, Kellits, Chapelton, Four Paths and Portland Cottage.
Preparation for the Anti-Stigma campaign began in October 2006, with a four-month training programme, where programme coordinators, a presenter and persons living with HIV/AIDS, were trained in areas such as public speaking and techniques to impart relevant information to the public in more interesting ways.

JIS Social