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PM: Respect people with HIV/Aids
There are about 240,000 people in the Caribbean living with HIV and Aids, making the region the second most affected in the world, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar disclosed yesterday. In a message commemorating World Aids Day yesterday, the PM said: “According to official statistics provided by various international bodies like the United Nations and the Pan American Health Organisation, as a region, the Caribbean, as of 2008, had an estimated 240,000 persons living with HIV and Aids. “Higher prevalence rates are found only in sub-Saharan Africa, which makes the Caribbean the second most affected region in the world,” she said. “What is equally disturbing is that half of the adults living with the virus are women.”
Noting that this is simply not acceptable, Persad-Bissessar said the People’s Partnership Government intends to increase and strengthen the implementation of policies to ensure that people living with HIV/Aids have access to education, health facilities, proper nutrition and access to care and support. She said the Government must ensure that HIV treatment is made accessible throughout all of T&T, from Toco to Port-of-Spain. “Every local health centre in every rural community must be stocked with medical and human resources for treatment of HIV/Aids. Persad-Bissessar said people living with the virus are entitled to rights which must be protected and respected. She said this year’s World Aids Day theme—Universal Access and Human Rights—is a fitting one.
“As a Government, we can guarantee that the laws of this country will be upheld but in our society it is not uncommon to hear reports of work place stigma against people living with HIV/Aids,” she said. “In recent months I have seen stories highlighted in the media about citizens who say their children face stigmatisation in schools because their parents are living with HIV/Aids. “Let me tell this population this is wrong and, please, it must be stopped. “As a nation, we need to show compassion and understanding to people living with HIV/Aids, fully cognisant that they, like all of us, are equals in the eyes of God and the law.” The PM said discrimination against people living with the virus is legally and morally wrong as it isolates victims. “The time has come for us to now focus on achieving zero tolerance for marginalisation and discrimination of people affected by HIV/Aids.” She said the Government has embarked on an education drive.
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