United and Strong’s activities for World AIDS Day 2013 culminates this weekend with Red Ribbon outreach in Castries and Gros Islet. World AIDS Day, observed on December 1 each year, and is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died.
As World AIDS Day draws closer, U&S is accelerating efforts to raise awareness of the continuing threat of this epidemic. The organisation began activities in November with outreach at well-traversed Blue Coral Mall in the capital city Castries and the busy JQ Shopping mall in the northern town of Gros Islet. In addition to disseminating safe sex and HIV/AIDS information, demonstrating proper use of the male and female condom and distributing free commodities (condoms, dental dams and lubes), United and Strong has been encouraging the public to wear the red ribbon, a symbol of hope in the face of HIV/AIDS.
Co-Executive Director Daryl Williams laments that there is not more being done to stem the tide of this expensive and life-changing disease. “World AIDS Day was first held in 1988 but there has been no major dent in the continuing high rate of teen pregnancy and STIs including HIV/AIDS. The recent International Day of Tolerance and International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women highlight the interconnectedness of issues of culture, violence, gender, sexuality and health. The lack of proper sex education in schools, the refusal to eliminate the buggery law that encourages stigma and discrimination, the lack of resources for issues of gender equality, all hinder us from fully addressing HIV/AIDS at its root.”
For its part United and Strong has committed to encouraging dialogue around these issues, which is the focus of its World AIDS Day outreach. The organisation will end the week with outreach at the following locations:
Thursday, November 28 (7pm – 10pm): HeadPhunk performance – Samaans Park
Friday, November 29 (5:30 – 7:30pm): St. Lucia Yacht Club, Rodney Bay
Friday, November 29 (7pm – 10pm): IGY Rodney Bay Marina
Saturday, November 30 (8am – 1pm) Blue Coral Mall, Castries
Sunday, December 1, 2013 (9am – 12pm) Gros Islet District Rep Health Fair, GrowWell Centre grounds, Gros Islet village
Sunday, December 1, 2013 (1pm – 7pm) Baywalk Mall, Rodney Bay (in collaboration with Caribbean HIV AIDS Alliance [CHAA])
United and Strong is Saint Lucia’s sole LGBTI representative organisation. Formed in 2001 as part of response to HIV/AIDS, it now has a more diverse mandate including human rights.