U&S Embarks on Annual Red Ribbon Outreach
(Castries, November 15, 2014) With no pronounced decrease in the rate of HIV in Saint Lucia and with the Caribbean continuing to have one of the highest HIV prevalence rates in the world, HIV and AIDS must be kept in the forefront of public consciousness in order to mitigate the impact of the pandemic. United and Strong will bring the conversation into the public forum as it embarks on its annual World AIDS Day Red Ribbon outreach in November.
“People still have high risk behaviours. They still have unprotected sex; they still have multiple partners and they still have transactional sex,” said Principal Officer of the HIV Unit of the Ministry of Health and senior Medical Officer, Dr Cleophas d’Auvergne, in a 2014 report.
The organisation will provide information and practical resources to the community on safer sex practices in several public sessions in the weeks leading up to World AIDS Day on December 1. The outreach will be staged at busy public areas such as the Blue Coral Mall in the capital Castries, the JQ Shopping mall in Gros Islet in the north and the shopping plaza in the south of the island. Events such as the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC) at the IGY Rodney Bay Marina and HeadPhunk at Samaans Park will also be utilised. 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 will encourage the public to wear the red ribbon, a symbol of hope in the face of HIV/AIDS and to make a donation to the outreach.
“Having committed to the 90-90-90 goal in the fight against HIV and AIDS, United and Strong will use the opportunity to encourage the public to be proactive in the face of the widespread threat of HIV and AIDS,” says U&S Communications and Advocacy Manager Maria Fontenelle. “Statistics show HIV is not relegated to one segment of the population and we cannot be complacent,” she adds. The 90-90-90 target set by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) for 2020 include achieving: 90% of people living with HIV knowing their HIV status; 90% of people who know their HIV-positive status on treatment; and 90% of people on treatment with suppressed viral loads.
Observed on December 1 each year, World AIDS Day is an opportunity for the world to unite against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to remember those who have died. The global theme for World AIDS Day is ‘Getting to zero’.
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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.