Group establishes support centre for HIV/AIDS victims
Guyana Chronicle
September 1, 2003

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CARIBBEAN People International Collective Inc. (CPIC) commissioned the Monique Helping Hands Support Center - an agency that will assist persons infected with the dreaded HIV/AIDS.

Located the corner of Norton and John Streets, the Center has the objectives of implementing behaviour modification among high risk groups, and hosting internal educational and awareness workshops. It will also develop training sessions to educate persons on the effects of HIV/AIDS on the family, women and men of all ages.

CPIC Chairman, Ms Ramelia Stewart, has given the assurance that the accommodation is just a temporary one, positing,

"We have business to do and nothing can stop us."

Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, who is performing the duties of President, reminded the gathering at the opening of the facility that HIV/AIDS is a problem in Guyana and urged that infected persons need support.

"We need all the help we can get in managing those already infected and we should not think less of them," he said.
Mr. Hinds noted, too, that drugs have been developed that can delay the effects of the virus, and that the United States is providing US$5B to assist developing countries in accessing the necessary medications.

The United States, and generic drug producers of Brazil, India, South Africa and Kenya, reached agreement on this issue recently in Geneva.

The Monique Helping Hands Support Center will sponsor annual health fairs, and will work to inform and educate members of the public about health issues. The agency will also develop community partnerships to help inform the public about its services.

CPIC would also provide leadership for supporting policy development promoting and enforcing legal requirements that protect the health and safety of women. The group plans to support research and political efforts to gain new insights and innovative solutions to health problems impacting the Guyanese people.

Monique, a 20-year-old woman, who died on July 10, 2002 as a result of HIV/AIDS, was the inspiration for establishing the facility. Ms. Stewart said that she was motivated to bring about the establishment of the Center and to name it after Monique because the young woman succeeded in turning her illness into testimony.

Monique's cousin tearfully urged the audience not to shun anyone affected by HIV/AIDS.

Statistics in Guyana show that the HIV infection claims about 3 to 5 per cent of the country's population. Data from UNAIDS reveal that 800 young people, aged one to 15 years were HIV-infected, and that 33 children, representative of 1.5 per cent of the 10 to 14 age group, had progressed to AIDS at the end of 2001.

Globally, about 50 per cent of all HIV cases are young people under the age of 25.

Former Miss Guyana Universe contestant, Ms Deslyn Jack, who was present at the opening ceremony, noted that young women in Guyana can make a difference.