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Health ministry hosts HIV workshop

GIS:-The Ministry of Health continues to engage innovative strategies that can help curb the HIV epidemic.

The Ministry of Health and Wellness recently collaborated with United and Strong—through a grant initiative provided by the OECS, and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria—on a four-day workshop on HIV/AIDS.

Communications and Advocacy Officer for United and Strong, Bennet Charles, was the workshop facilitator. Charles said a more holistic approach to combating the disease is necessary.

“The impact of HIV and AIDS on the Caribbean region, particularly Saint Lucia, mainly affects men who have sex with men, sex workers, and young persons. The workshop focus is on combination prevention and the minimum package of services. Combination prevention is taking a holistic approach in dealing with HIV including biomedical, structural, and behavioral issues.”

To ensure maximum reach, the workshop brought together several organizations that have traditionally worked with key populations and are critical to dealing with HIV and AIDS in Saint Lucia. These include NGOs such as the National Youth Council, the Saint Lucia Planned Parenthood Association and TLC, a support group for persons affected by and living with HIV.

“We are really hoping these organizations along with the regional organization, CVC, can work together to collaborate governments and regional partners in curbing the impact of HIV and AIDS within our small island states.”

Current national statistics indicate that there are over 700 persons living with HIV.

The Caribbean is the second most-affected region in terms of HIV prevalence. Approximately 1 percent of adults (240,000 people) are living with the disease.

The four-day workshop commenced on June 6.

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