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CCRP Hosts Third and Final Workshop on HIV/AIDS Awareness

Participants at HIV/AIDS Awareness workshop urged to get involved and get tested. The workshop hosted by CCRP Jamaica with the support of the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) programme, was the final in a series organised by the CCRP.

The final in the series of HIV/AIDS sensitization workshop for Older Persons, hosted by the CCRP was held at the Mona Visitors’ Lodge on Thursday, January 30.  Ainsley Reid, Programme Coordinator for the National HIV/STI Unit in the Ministry of Health and long time advocate for Behaviour  Change Towards   Persons Living with HIV/AIDS, encouraged participants to not only get involved but to take the necessary steps in assessing their own sexual behavior, to determine if they are “high risk, low risk  or no risk!” He added that in Jamaica there are currently approximately 32,000 persons infected with the disease, at least 50% of whom are unaware of their status.

Dr. Marjan DeBriun-Maxwell, Director of the University of the West Indies, Mona HIV/AIDS Response Programme (UWI HARP), in addressing the audience said that it was very important that consideration be given to the non-medical aspects of the disease, such as, an individual making a conscious decision to get tested. She also cited the availability of Antiretroviral (ARV) drugs; the affordability of proper meals to maximize the effect of the drugs and the level of social and economic support available as among the issues for consideration.

Rosemarie Stone, Advocate for HIV/AIDS awareness and well known author of ‘No Stone Unturned’, a book highlighting her story of her encounter with HIV, was in support of Dr. DeBruin-Maxwell’s position.  She spoke about the significance of the support of family, friends and the community in the process.  She stressed the importance of building ‘social capital’ and advised participants to pass on this legacy to their children and grand-children, so that they too can get involved.

Mrs. Stone also highlighted the link between HIV and ageing, saying that, “As you get older  you have to be more vigilant, particularly if you are taking  ARV  drugs, as you consciously have to think of ways of fitting  into an  existing ARV regime,  the chronic diseases that come with ageing, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and  high cholesterol .”  This is one of the challenges that older persons are now faced with as some persons who contracted the disease at a younger age, with the advent of ARV drugs are now among the seniors’ age cohort. 

The series of workshops which began in December 2013 under the theme: “HIV/AIDS Awareness in Mature Adults”, was financed by a grant from the US PEPFAR (President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) programme.   The participants comprised mainly of CCRP members, members of the National Council for Senior Citizens (NCSC) and members of other seniors’ organizations in Kingston.

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