HIV and AIDS education a priority for YWCA of Grenada
The Caribbean has the second-highest rate of HIV infection in the world after sub-Saharan Africa, with 430,000 people living with HIV and AIDS. The YWCA of Grenada has pledged their commitment to raise awareness of HIV on the Caribbean island of Grenada and recently participated in an ‘HIV and AIDS in the Workplace’ workshop held at Grenada National Stadium.
YWCA of Grenada members Kesha Alexander and Abbiola Delves-Fraser participated in the workshop aimed to sensitise people in the workplace about HIV and AIDS. Topics covered in the workshop included recreational drug and alcohol use, stigma and discrimination, sexually transmitted infections and transmission of HIV. “One of the biggest lessons I learnt in the workshop was that drugs and alcohol influence the transmission of HIV. For example, if a person goes to a party and drinks alcohol and / or uses drugs, they can become a victim of bad play and not know what happened to them when they wake up the next day,” says Alexander.
Stigma and discrimination of people living with HIV is a reality in Grenada. “HIV positive people have a hard time facing everyday life in Grenada,” admits Shonta Duncan of the YWCA of Grenada. ‘We live in a relatively small society where people generally know each other, and news travels fast.’
The YWCA of Grenada has developed an HIV and AIDS Committee that works alongside the Grenada National Aids Directorate and other non-governmental organisations to educate both its membership and the Grenada public on HIV and AIDS. The association will host an HIV testing service at upcoming HIV awareness days in partnership with the Ministry of Health. “ HIV testing is one of the Ministry of Health services offered to the public. Women and young women will benefit from this facility by being able to be tested and ultimately know their HIV status,” says Duncan.
The association also held an Open House on World AIDS Day 2008 to raise awareness of HIV in Grenada and provide information on the proper use of the male and female condom. Promotional materials such as water bottles were handed out to people who correctly answered questions on the topic. Condoms were also distributed to those who attended Open House to encourage safe sex practices and behaviour.
In late 2008, the Prime Minister of Grenada Tillman Thomas described HIV and AIDS as a serious issue for the country. “Our young people and the working population are very much at risk. HIV and AIDS will have an impact on our economies because of its effects on the labour force and our young people,” Thomas said.