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GBAAC unveils HIV/AIDS Education Billboard
Published Date :
22 Dec 2016
The Grand Bahama AIDS Awareness Committee (GBAAC) unveiled its ‘Get the facts about HIV/AIDS’ Education Billboard at the Eight Mile Rock Community Clinic on Tuesday, December 20, 2016.
Mavis Ward, GBAAC Chairperson and HIV/AIDS Survivors Benefit (formerly Project Hope Bahamas) President, Kevin Thompson-Delancy, agreed on the fact that efforts must increase to enhance HIV/AIDS education within the community, as statistical research indicates since the virus was first discovered over 30 years ago, between 40,000-50,000 Americans test positive annually for the disease with African-Americans and Latinos vastly overrepresented.
Furthermore, HIV/AIDS is considered a disease of the vulnerable and the poor, which governmental health care systems and communities worldwide must handle inclusive of the social factors that face populations at greater vulnerability of acquiring HIV, such as poverty; discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation, race/ethnicity or religion; and illicit drug use that is amplified for people between the ages 13-29, who bear the brunt of new HIV infections.
Eight Mile Rock is the largest settlement in The Bahamas, hence Ward noted that medical treatment combined with proper HIV/AIDS education will be the only means by which to prevent, address and conqueror the hard issues of inequality, discrimination and social injustice associated GBAAC is confident that persons who drive past it would be reminded to ensure they educate themselves about HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) that gradually attacks the immune system, which is our body’s natural defense against illness making it harder to fight off infections and diseases, as it destroys a type of white blood cell called a T-helper cell and makes copies of itself inside them.
“Meanwhile, AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) is a syndrome caused by the HIV, which makes a person’s immune system too weak to fight off many infections, and develops when the HIV infection is very advanced therefore; at the last stage of HIV/AIDS infection where the body can no longer defend itself and may develop various diseases, infections, which if left untreated can result in death.
“The GBAAC invites residents of Eight Mile Rock as well as those persons traveling along Warren J. Levarity Highway/Queens Highway, which is the main artery (access road) going to schools, clinic, work in the community or to visit West End to not only view the sign but also stop by and speak with Dr. Sally Taylor-Rolle, EMR Clinic Consultant Physician and the nursing staff here, who are well equipped to provide you with answers to any inquiries you may have regarding your HIV/AIDS health status.
“Living with HIV/AIDS can take a serious toll not only on a person’s physical health but emotional health as well particularly due to the fact that individuals suffer through a wide range of feelings.
“The billboard also points out those emotions, which includes discrimination, fear, panic, stigma, anger, lies and betrayal that unfortunately occurs due to the wider community’s lack of the facts and truth regarding the disease hence, persons living with HIV/AIDS are not treated fairly, do not have the opportunity to earn gainful employment or interacting with people,” said Ward.
Dr. Taylor-Rolle expressed sincere gratitude to the GBAAC for erecting the billboard which she notes definitely captures the attention of passersby and pricks the consciousness of residents, who should know their HIV/AIDS status.
The Bahamas has a high prevalence of HIV/AIDS cases and according to Dr. Taylor-Rolle it is vital that all partners in the fight against the disease and its eradication heightens and that every person, who is sexually active undergoes an HIV/AIDS blood test annually.
“Knowing one’s HIV/AIDS status is important as every sexually active person should know whether or not he or she is HIV positive or HIV negative.
“The staff here at the Eight Mile Rock Community Clinic attempt to educate all of our clients whether or not they come in for treatment of a common cold or diabetes management.
“We talk about HIV/AIDS with them and encourage them to know their status by undergoing a blood test at least once a year from the time that they become sexually active right up to the age of 65, which is a standard recommendation by the American Academy of Family Physicians that we promote as much as possible.
“We are indeed grateful to have the ‘Get the facts about HIV/AIDS’ Education Billboard erected outside the clinic at the roadside as it reminds the public to come in and get information and education regarding HIV/AIDS as well as seek to have themselves or partner tested.
“Doctors and the nursing staff during our HIV/AIDS consultation and education seminars discuss safe sex with topics ranging from wearing a condom to abstinence.
“Besides condoms are available at the clinic for anyone who is sexually active and we conduct HIV Pre and Post Screening Education along with Risk Management and Behavioral Modification that is essential to reduce further infections,” revealed Dr. Taylor-Rolle.
On hand for the unveiling were members of the HIV/AIDS Survivors Benefit and GBAAC including Dr. Alfred Braithwaite, Vivian Braithwaite, Afrika Karamo-Miller, registered nurses Patricia Edgecombe, Letecha Garland, who were elated to present three gift cards to Thompson-Delancy to help critically ill HIV/AIDS patients purchase much-needed groceries, as they are too sick to work and feed themselves.
Both Thompson-Delancy and Dr. Braithwaite are elated to help improve the health of HIV/AIDS patients, educate those who are sexually active as well as the wider community regarding the truth about HIV/AIDS and taking a humanistic approach to meet their needs with the assistance of the GBACC, Public Hospitals Authority and local and international donors, sponsors and experts so everyone could have a bright and healthy future.