Youth leader laments poor response to HIV/AIDS project
Guyana Chronicle
December 5, 2003

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PRESIDENT of the Guyana Youth Network Plus (GYNP) Mr Edward Charles has expressed concern over the poor support of the HIV/AIDS programme arranged by his organisation

Speaking yesterday to members of the media at the official launching of the body held at the Guyana Red Cross building, Eve Leary, Mr Charles stated that it is “virtually impossible to get people to participate, to come out and take a stand and speak out” (on HIV/AIDS).

A two-day workshop planned for members of the new body was subsequently cancelled because of the poor turnout as well as inadequate organisation, Charles lamented.

While disappointed, the youth leader, however, remains adamant on his stance in the fight to combat HIV/AIDS in the Guyana society. He is also still committed to collaboration at all levels in this endeavour.

Charles described the scourge of HIV/AIDS as something that robs the nation of its human resources at the prime of their lives, thereby forcing grandparents to fulfill the role of the parents for orphaned children

He identified a number of organisations, with which his group is working closely. Many of these are United Nations agencies.

Guyana Youth Network Plus was one of several organisations that recently received grants for the anti- HIV/AIDS fight from the fund headed by United States Ambassador Roland Bullen.

At the conclusion of yesterday’s launching, Charles expressed the view that the Guyana Youth Network Plus will become recognised and will work collectively with other non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to arrest the scourge that is ravaging the nation’s human resources.

Ms Leslyn Thompson, who spoke on behalf of Dr. Sreelaksmi Gururaja of UNICEF, noted, “UNICEF is part of the UN Group that rises to the challenge to protect young people and children from HIV/AIDS. Rising to the challenge set by the Millennium Development Goals to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS by 2015, UNICEF has set global priorities to:

* Prevent new infection among young people.

* Prevent mother-to- child transmission of HIV.

* Expand protection and support of orphans, vulnerable children and families living with HIV/AIDS, and children and young people living in armed conflict.

Ms Thompson pointed to mounting evidence of HIV/AIDS growing rapidly in Guyana and called on all persons to get involved and join the challenge in tearing down the stigma and discrimination associated with HIV/AIDS.

She noted that as a result of HIV/AIDS-related deaths, there are now 14 million orphans worldwide. And a recent study also revealed that there were five million new infections in 2002.

Thompson, explained that out of the five million new cases last year, about 50 per cent comprised youths. She also stated that almost 2,000 infants became HIV-positive everyday last year either during pregnancy, birth or through breast-feeding.

Unavoidably absent was Minister of Youth, Culture and Sport Gail Teixeira, who was scheduled to deliver the feature address. She, however, sent greetings and congratulations to the youths in their new venture.
(Shirwin Campbell)