JIS News

More than 700 employees from the Ministry of Water and Housing and the Ministry of Transport and Works have benefited from sensitization workshops on the Workplace HIV/AIDS policy since January of this year.
The employees, from these once combined ministries, participated in some 17 sensitization workshops across the island designed to eradicate discrimination against persons living with HIV/AIDS in the workplace.
Speaking with JIS News, Workplace Programme Officer with the Ministry of Water and Housing, Monica Dystant, said that 14 of 28 agencies under the Ministries participated in the workshop programme.
The agencies include the National Water Commission, National Works Agency, Transport Authority of Jamaica, Island Traffic Authority, Maritime Authority of Jamaica, Caribbean Maritime Institute, Civil Aviation Authority and National Housing Development Corporation.
The workshops were very popular given the high levels of attendance. In fact based on the impact, one agency requested the coordination of a voluntary counselling and testing (VCT) session on location.
“We had at this session a resource person from the Ministry of Health and Environment in attendance. The session was so successful that we exceeded the 14 requests for VCT. Some 62 employees ended up volunteering to be counselled and tested that day,” Ms. Dystant informed.
In addition to the workshops, she told JIS News that more than 1500 male condoms were distributed during Safer Sex Week in February. “From time to time, we also distribute condoms from the main office, at the request of individuals,” she noted.
Two thousand (2000) Jamaica Network of Seropositives (JN+) report forms have also been distributed to employees so that complaints regarding stigma and discrimination can be recorded and submitted to either the Workplace Programme Officer or JN+ representative.
Commenting on current activities under the programme, Ms. Dystant said that the sensitization of employees to the policy in the various units of the Ministry is being carried out to ensure coverage and also encourage feedback.
The sensitization effort is part of the National HIV/STI Control Programme, to educate workplaces on HIV/AIDS.
As it relates to the public sector, the sensitization programme was conducted in two phases, the first of which dealt with what were considered sector/line Ministries, which include Education, Tourism, National Security, Local Government and Labour and Social Security.
The Ministry of Water and Housing as well as the Ministry of Transport and Works were covered in the second phase.
Where possible, a Workplace Programme Officer and a Focal Point on HIV/AIDS have been positioned to coordinate and manage the programme in these Ministries. Steering committees are formed to assist with effectively carrying out the programme.
The Minister of Water and Housing, Dr. Horace Chang and the Permanent Secretary, Genefa Hibbert were recently updated on the achievements of the programme to date.

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