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Montserrat observing Word Aids Day, launches BSS campaign

by B. Roach

Montserrat observed World AIDS Day at an event in the centre square at the Government Headquarters at Brades: Under the theme “Be Sexually Safe” (BSS), and through the initiative of Anjella Skerritt, STI/HIV/AIDS Coordinator of the Sexual Health Unit and the Montserrat HIV/AIDS/STI Multisectoral Team.

This new campaign launched on Wednesday, December 1 is intended to bring awareness to HIV/AIDS and other STIs. At the function, though poorly attended by the general public, the anticipation was , BSS would be another effort for the public to learn more about how to protect their sexual health, view condom demonstrations, win prizes and other campaign items and also to purchase the BSS pin, which features the local madras design and the national bird, the Oriole.

The Coordinator chaired the event and after brief words of welcome and introduction of officials and the media invited prayers by Father Vyphius.

Governor and Mrs. Waterworth & Mrs. Anjella Skerritt

She welcomed, H E Governor Peter Waterworth and his wife Cathy; the Hon. Minister of  Education and Health and Community Services, Collin Riley, the Hon. Minister of  Communications and Works, Charles Kirnon, Hon. Financial secretary John Skerritt, and any other member of the legislative council “that is here with us today”; Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Mr. Michael Owens, Chair of the Montserrat HIV AIDS Multisectoral team, Rev. Dr. Joan Meade, other members of the HIV Multisectoral Team; Director of Red cross  and HIV peer educators, Ann Thomas, members of the media.

CMO Owens spoke first and gave a brief overview of HIV/AIDS in the world. He recounted when prominence was given to the disease. He told the small gathering, “World AIDS day was started in 1988 by a man in charge of special program and AIDS in the World Health Organization, in 1988.”

He said, “We had no treatment, we had no cure, we could only talked about prevention …we have treatment but we still don’t have a cure there…”

He said, there are at the present time some 30 million with the disease, (that’s half the population of the UK). He noted further, each year 2.6 million acquire the disease. In the Caribbean, we have 17,000 new cases approximately each year. He said that was bad news, but, “the good news is the infection is beginning to slow down and in some cases decrease, but there is still an enormous challenge to all of us and the real risk is the risk of complacency.”

Rev Joan Meade

Rev. Joan Meade, urged, especially young people, to abstain from sex to avoid contracting the HIV virus and other STI’s…not to give into peer pressure to have sex in order to keep up with their friends.

“I want to remind us all that the only way we can totally illuminate transmission of the virus is we do not know what our status is, is to abstain from sexual activity,” she said. “I am appealing especially to our children and young people to abstain from sexual activity because you are really not ready. I want to tell you too, that there are number of your peers who are telling you that they are sexually active because they want to identify with what they think the crowd is doing, when they themselves are not yet sexually active.”

She said she would add two other letters to the Abstain, Be Faithful, and use a Condom  advice, ABC. She said she would add D, for Doing the HIV test (get tested); and E for the elimination of discrimination.

Youth Rep: Christon Aymer

A youth representative in Christon Aymer from the peer educators and the Red Cross, in a very brief  statement addressed young people on abstinence. He encouraged that the choice is “…ours for the future…”

Minister Riley pledged his Ministry’s  continued “commitment to this fight against HIV/AIDS,”  citing the efforts of Mrs. Anjella Skerritt.

He said that he has learnt more about AIDS in his 14 months as a minister, than anything else, as he travels internationally and regionally. With regards to disease he says, “…AIDS and its education, the fact that we prepare to make good decisions and good choices, must be refreshed everywhere…the information needs to be continuously available, and the level of seriousness should never waiver…that is why the BSS campaign and the ABC method will work for us.”

He referred to Antigua Dr. Prince Ramsey’s recent visit and his presentation  which made a significant impact. He reported, “…there are students are already mobilising, thinking about making different choices with respect to their sexual practices…”

Because of our very small population, AIDS can spread very quickly here, “we have to work …four times as hard, we need to protect our people.”  He said we have to, “thank DFID for its outlook and foresight…through their efforts we have been able to see resources being dedicated to the fight against HIV/AIDS in the Overseas territories…”

Before he declared the “BSS Campaign” launched, he thanked those who have contributed in the past, “and we continue to be committed to making the resources of the government and its funding partners available to those who have to deal with this dreaded disease…I declare the Be Sexually Safe  (BSS), ABC campaign open.”

Before closing, Mrs. Skerritt noted the reason for the theme. “we need to drive it home – need to be realistic about what is happening  – a lot of people do not identify with the HIV because they do not see it happening to them…”

She thanked everyone and noted that an awareness program runs right into January.

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by B. Roach

Montserrat observed World AIDS Day at an event in the centre square at the Government Headquarters at Brades: Under the theme “Be Sexually Safe” (BSS), and through the initiative of Anjella Skerritt, STI/HIV/AIDS Coordinator of the Sexual Health Unit and the Montserrat HIV/AIDS/STI Multisectoral Team.

This new campaign launched on Wednesday, December 1 is intended to bring awareness to HIV/AIDS and other STIs. At the function, though poorly attended by the general public, the anticipation was , BSS would be another effort for the public to learn more about how to protect their sexual health, view condom demonstrations, win prizes and other campaign items and also to purchase the BSS pin, which features the local madras design and the national bird, the Oriole.

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The Coordinator chaired the event and after brief words of welcome and introduction of officials and the media invited prayers by Father Vyphius.

Governor and Mrs. Waterworth & Mrs. Anjella Skerritt

She welcomed, H E Governor Peter Waterworth and his wife Cathy; the Hon. Minister of  Education and Health and Community Services, Collin Riley, the Hon. Minister of  Communications and Works, Charles Kirnon, Hon. Financial secretary John Skerritt, and any other member of the legislative council “that is here with us today”; Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Mr. Michael Owens, Chair of the Montserrat HIV AIDS Multisectoral team, Rev. Dr. Joan Meade, other members of the HIV Multisectoral Team; Director of Red cross  and HIV peer educators, Ann Thomas, members of the media.

CMO Owens spoke first and gave a brief overview of HIV/AIDS in the world. He recounted when prominence was given to the disease. He told the small gathering, “World AIDS day was started in 1988 by a man in charge of special program and AIDS in the World Health Organization, in 1988.”

He said, “We had no treatment, we had no cure, we could only talked about prevention …we have treatment but we still don’t have a cure there…”

He said, there are at the present time some 30 million with the disease, (that’s half the population of the UK). He noted further, each year 2.6 million acquire the disease. In the Caribbean, we have 17,000 new cases approximately each year. He said that was bad news, but, “the good news is the infection is beginning to slow down and in some cases decrease, but there is still an enormous challenge to all of us and the real risk is the risk of complacency.”

Rev Joan Meade

Rev. Joan Meade, urged, especially young people, to abstain from sex to avoid contracting the HIV virus and other STI’s…not to give into peer pressure to have sex in order to keep up with their friends.

“I want to remind us all that the only way we can totally illuminate transmission of the virus is we do not know what our status is, is to abstain from sexual activity,” she said. “I am appealing especially to our children and young people to abstain from sexual activity because you are really not ready. I want to tell you too, that there are number of your peers who are telling you that they are sexually active because they want to identify with what they think the crowd is doing, when they themselves are not yet sexually active.”

She said she would add two other letters to the Abstain, Be Faithful, and use a Condom  advice, ABC. She said she would add D, for Doing the HIV test (get tested); and E for the elimination of discrimination.

Youth Rep: Christon Aymer

A youth representative in Christon Aymer from the peer educators and the Red Cross, in a very brief  statement addressed young people on abstinence. He encouraged that the choice is “…ours for the future…”

Minister Riley pledged his Ministry’s  continued “commitment to this fight against HIV/AIDS,”  citing the efforts of Mrs. Anjella Skerritt.

He said that he has learnt more about AIDS in his 14 months as a minister, than anything else, as he travels internationally and regionally. With regards to disease he says, “…AIDS and its education, the fact that we prepare to make good decisions and good choices, must be refreshed everywhere…the information needs to be continuously available, and the level of seriousness should never waiver…that is why the BSS campaign and the ABC method will work for us.”

He referred to Antigua Dr. Prince Ramsey’s recent visit and his presentation  which made a significant impact. He reported, “…there are students are already mobilising, thinking about making different choices with respect to their sexual practices…”

Because of our very small population, AIDS can spread very quickly here, “we have to work …four times as hard, we need to protect our people.”  He said we have to, “thank DFID for its outlook and foresight…through their efforts we have been able to see resources being dedicated to the fight against HIV/AIDS in the Overseas territories…”

Before he declared the “BSS Campaign” launched, he thanked those who have contributed in the past, “and we continue to be committed to making the resources of the government and its funding partners available to those who have to deal with this dreaded disease…I declare the Be Sexually Safe  (BSS), ABC campaign open.”

Before closing, Mrs. Skerritt noted the reason for the theme. “we need to drive it home – need to be realistic about what is happening  – a lot of people do not identify with the HIV because they do not see it happening to them…”

She thanked everyone and noted that an awareness program runs right into January.