Discrimination needs to end
Director of the National HIV/AIDS Commission, Jacqueline Wiltshire-Gay, expressed that even though people have become more accepting of persons living with HIV/AIDS, there is still much to be done to completely end discrimination.
She made this comment during an interview with the media, following the World Aids Day Service that took place at the St. Michael’s Cathedral yesterday afternoon.
“Our biggest issue that we face is stigma and discrimination. Because if at the centre of everything we have a person that feels that they would be discriminated against, they’re not going to go to the clinic, they’re not going to tell their partners that they’re positive and they’re certainly not going to disclose this to their families. That is something that we have to work towards; making sure that we pull down those barriers so that people feel free,” she said.
To help pull down these barriers, she noted that the Commission had a specialist to help persons understand the disease.
“I think it’s just fear. When people are afraid of things, they are intolerant, but the more they understand things and gain knowledge, then the society becomes more understanding and compassionate and more accepting,” she said.
“So we work with people in different forums by trying to show that a person with HIV or presumed to have HIV, is no less deserving of a dignified existence than a person who has diabetes or a cold. We try to show that HIV is not a death sentence.”
She revealed that there were persons living with HIV who were being treated that the virus became so suppressed that it cannot be passed on. She noted that this meant people living with HIV had the opportunity to live long, productive lives.
However, the Director noted that they could not live these productive lifestyles if they are on the outskirts of society due to discrimination. It is for this reason that she believed the elimination of discrimination was one goals that needed to be achieved. (CLF)