HIV anti-stigma campaign for schools- NAPS Programme Manager

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National AIDS Programme Secretariat (NAPS) Programme Manager, Dr. Tariq Jagnarine, on Friday announced that Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) anti-stigma campaigns will be carried out in schools.

Dr. Jagnarine was speaking on the campaigns intended to commence this year to combat stigma and discrimination against HIV infected persons.

The Programme Manager explained that funding from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention assisted NAPS with creating manuals, which will allow the secretariat to carry out anti-stigma campaigns and training at schools and the wider public.

National AIDS Programme Secretariat – Programme Manager Dr. Tariq Jagnarine.

“The future of the nation is the youth and if they are not educated, not brought up in the way we would want to see the future, we are in trouble,” Dr. Jagnarine said.

Noting the urgent need to end stigma, Dr. Jagnarine, said: “Stigma against people who live with HIV hampers attempts to get people to come forward for testing and means too often, people living with HIV are diagnosed late and risk developing serious complications.”

For this reason, he said, “Everybody needs to know about stigma at some point. They need to know how it impacts their neighbour, their friends.”

“Our new manual that we are going to develop, we are going to take that now to schools. We are not only teaching evidence-based knowledge about HIV and best practices, we have included social aspects to look at stigma, discrimination, gender-based violence, bullying. We think by training our youth both in school and out of school they can be better equip to address the social concerns of society.”

The manuals were completed with the assistance of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). It further focuses on the HIV workplace policy.

Further, in 2023, Guyana will conduct its first stigma index. Dr. Jagnarine said the UNDP will assist in this regard.

The stigma index collects information about the experiences of people living with HIV, related to stigma, discrimination and human rights.

According to Dr. Jagnarine, posters have already been placed on public infrastructure to bring awareness to the stigma against persons who have HIV.

A legal health desk will also be created with the assistance of the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security.

Thus far, training to bring awareness to how the negative connotation attached to the infection has impacted persons’ lives has been done for healthcare workers, police officer and soldiers.

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