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February 3, 2014
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CCRP hosts final HIV/AIDS workshop

Participants at the CCRP HIV/AIDS sensitization workshop held at the Mona Visitors' Lodge last Thursday. - Contributed

The final in the series of HIV/AIDS sensitization workshops for older persons, hosted by the Caribbean Community of Retired Persons (CCRP) was held at the Mona Visitors' Lodge on Thursday.

Ainsley Reid, programme coordinator for the National HIV/STI Unit in the Ministry of Health and long time advocate for behavioural 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 virus, at least 50 per cent of whom are unaware of their status.

Dr Marjan de Bruin-Maxwell, director of the University of the West Indies, Mona HIV/AIDS Response Programme (UWI HARP), in addressing the audience said it was very important that consider-ation be given to the non-medical aspects of the disease, such as an individual making a conscious decision to get tested.

proper meals

She also cited the availability of antiretroviral drugs; the afforda- bility of proper meals to maximise 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 de Bruin-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 grandchildren, so that they too can get involved.

The series of workshops, which began last December 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.

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