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CCRP's Second HIV/AIDS Sensitization Workshop

Participants gave positive reviews on the second staging of the PEPFAR funded CCRP HIV/AIDS Sensitization Workshop for Older Persons held on Saturday, January 18th at Sts. Peter & Paul Parish Hall.


“Excellent! Very informative! Interactive!” were among the responses by participants to the second of three HIV/AIDS Workshops hosted by the Caribbean Community of Retired Persons (CCRP) at the Sts. Peter and Paul Parish Hall in St Andrew on Saturday, January 18. The workshop which took an informal approach allowed participants to freely ask questions of the presenters who abandoned prepared academic powerpoint slides.

“I’m very happy at the approach taken – very informative,” said Sonia Scott, from the Retired Government Workers Association who pledged to share the information gleaned with her church’s youth group. “It has certainly helped me in talking with the young people about sex. I am also grateful for a forum which allows for questions to be freely asked and the relevant information shared,”she added.

Andrew Archer, a teacher, said he found the workshop beneficial because it provided an opportunity for persons to talk so openly about the issue of HIV/AIDS. “ I really believe similar workshops would be very useful if held across the island and not just confined to the Corporate Area,” he said

Dr. Jean Small, University lecturer was also of the view that similar workshops should be held at other central points across the island. “I found this one particularly down to earth, far less academic, practical, interactive and facilitated questions and the sharing of experiences,” she added.

During Saturday’s session, presenters Professors Brendan Bain and Denise Eldemire-Shearer underscored the need for trust when an individual makes the decision to disclose his /her HIV status. “Older persons need to be aware of information on the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases as very often they are the ones to whom younger family members will gravitate for advice,” Professor Eldemire-Shearer noted. Professor Bain added that “When people disclose, they move into a new space where they get support.” Noted HIV/AIDS advocate, Rosemarie Stone said based on her own experience, “there is usually great fear that the people you trust the most are the ones who will disclose information about your illness.”

The role of faith based organizations was also placed on the agenda with another advocate, Ainsley Reid noting that not many people felt that persons with HIV should be treated with dignity and respect. He cited his near death experience, after being stabbed several times with a machete and ice pick in Half Way Tree, St Andrew 18 years ago, after it became public knowledge that he was HIV positive. “Churches need to have a policy on this matter in order to be part of the solution,” he said. “Churches also need to start discussing the impact of HIV on marriages, and establish policies in relation to burial, baptism and communion services,” he added.      

The final workshop is slated for Thursday, January 30 at the Mona Visitor’s Lodge starting at 10:00a.m. The series which began on December 11, 2013 under the theme: “HIV/AIDS Awareness in Mature Adults”, is being financed by a grant from the US PEPFAR (President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) programme.

CCRP was launched in April 2010, with the mission of “working to ensure that the vast talent, experience and wisdom of seniors will be respected, and that they enjoy the quality of life which they so richly deserve.”  The organization was founded by Jean Lowrie-Chin, Managing Director of PROComm Limited as a tribute to Jamaica's seniors.


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