by Donella Hosten
Grenada joined with the rest of the world to celebrate World AIDS Day on Friday, 1 December 2017 under the theme ‘My health, my right.’
The day’s celebrations began with a short ceremony and continued with a Health Expo at Camerhogne Park at Morne Rouge. The expo saw a number of non-governmental organisations (NGO), members of the health sector and other institutions coming out to disseminate information, provide testing for HIV, diabetes and hypertension. Patrons were also encouraged to get their flu shots.
Speaking with Tahyra Noel who is part of the World AIDS Day Planning Committee, she noted that their main aim for this year’s expo is to get as many persons as possible tested and informed in order to help decrease the spread of HIV in Grenada. Her main responsibility she said, was to bring the NGOs together, as the focus is not solely on HIV/AIDS, but, rather on every aspect of one’s health.
Jennifer Bain–Thomas, Surveillance Nurse attached to National Infectious Disease Control Unit (NIDCU), also gave a brief synopsis of her division’s contribution to the World AIDS Day event. According to her, this collaboration with the Ministry of Health and other NGOs is ‘not just about HIV, but when speaking about health, we’re talking about every aspect of health.’ She went on to reiterate the importance of getting tested and knowing one’s status. Additionally, if one is infected, they can detect it early enough in order to get treatment.
When asked about the number of new cases for 2017, Bain-Thomas stated that up to the end of November there were 25 new cases, and, this, she believes is just a bit higher than last year’s figures.
Another contributor to the Health Expo was Peace Educator, Maureen St Clair, who specialises in community peacebuilding and violence prevention work. Falling under the theme ‘My health, my right,’ St Clair stated that her work looks at the importance of having healthy relationships with oneself and each other. She said, “I think the work in building cultures of peace equals building healthy relationships,” as it brings a deeper level of understanding…”
Her booth at the expo was used to engage persons and let them say what they believed a healthy relationship means to them. According to St Clair, this exercise is also about self-awareness and respect. She is hoping to introduce her works in schools in Grenada in order to reduce violence.
Also present at the expo were GrenAIDS and GrenCHAP – two organisations in Grenada aimed at providing a safe space and support for persons in minority groups as well as persons living with HIV (PLHIV).
Besides disseminating information and raising awareness about HIV and healthy and safe sexual practices, they encouraged persons to make written pledges. These pledges were focused on sexual practices, getting regular testing and spreading awareness, and were displayed on a line.
Other stakeholders present included the Grenada Planned Parenthood Association (GPPA), National Disaster Management Authority (NaDMA), Ministry of Social Development, Ministry of Health and the Grenada National Coalition on the Rights of the Child (GNCRC).