World AIDS Day in Montserrat

World AIDS Awareness Day was on Monday 01 December with several activities locally to mark the Day. The highlight of the Day was the launch of the National HIV/AIDS/STI Multisectoral Team, which was held at the Administration Conference Room at Government Headquarters. This event was hosted by the HE the Governor, who also hosted a reception at Government House in the evening.

The Team was launched by the Hon Minister of Health Roslyn Cassell Sealy. Other speakers included Team Chair Rev Dr. Joan Meade, HE Governor Mr. Peter Waterworth, Permanent Secretary Beverley Mendes and acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Gopal.

The Team is broken into several committees and subcommittees. The overall Chairperson is Rev Dr Joan Meade who is also Chair of the Management Team. Other committees include the Advisory Committee, the Technical Team, the Information, Education and Communication (IEC) Committee, the Legal and Human Rights Committee, and the Civil Society Committee.

HIV/AIDS/STI Coordinator Anjella Skerritt explained that there is a pressing need for policies on HIV/AIDS, in the health, education and workplace sectors. The first task for the respective Committees will be to work towards formulating these policies, with the final result being a Workplace Policy, an Education Policy and a Health Policy.

Meantime the Red Cross HIV/STI Peer Educators organized a walk from Brades Pentecostal Church to Carrs Bay, accompanied by the Defence Force band. Leaflets and gifts and gifts were distributed along the route and ended with refreshments and music at Carr’s Bay. Before the march commenced, there were short speeches by the Hon Minister of Health Roslyn Cassell Sealy, HIV/AIDS Coordinator Anjella Skerritt, Red Cross President Beverley West Joseph, and Police Officer Stanford Kelly of the DARE Programme.

There were two editions of Talking Health Radio programme. The first one, leading up to the Day, featured panelists Keith Dyett and Viona Alexander, both of whom attended the workshop on HIV Stigma and Discrimination; also Benjamin Rasool, Condom Sales Promotion Agent of the “Got it Get it” condom promotion programme, as well as Anjella Skerritt. The second programme was a follow-up to the Day, and featured four Adolescent Red Cross Peer Educators, along with their Coordinator Ann Thomas.

On ZJB Radio songs about HIV/AIDS were played, while a quiz on HIV/AIDS continued throughout the day. The Red Cross Peer Educators also recorded some radio promo’s which will be aired throughout December, and the group also plans to hold a Hat Show, which will feature AIDS education messages. The Montserrat Christian Council hosted an ecumenical service at Cavalla Hill Methodist church on the 30 November which ended with an alter call for persons to commit to do their part in the fight against HIV and AIDS.

Messages for HIV/STI Prevention and Reduction of HIV Stigma and Discrimination will continue through to January 2009, including participation in the annual festival activities..