Campaign to promote behaviour change launched By Shirley Thomas
Guyana Chronicle
March 14, 2004

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A SOCIAL marketing programme which emphasises the use of the ABC–Prevention model as part of a campaign aimed at promoting behaviour change in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Guyana, was on Thursday launched at Le Meridien Pegasus.

The campaign is the initiative of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and its implementing partner, Population Services International (PSI), in collaboration with the Ministry of Health

The campaign employs the use of television spots in which members of PSI’s youthful performing `Street Crew’ feature in delivering powerful messages advocating behaviour change in the fight against the global scourge.

The ABCs of HIV/AIDS prevention are: A-Abstinence (delayed sexual involvement, particularly in the case of youths); B-Being faithful (partner reduction) and C-Consistent Condom use (especially in high risk groups).

In addition, to the `ABC’ Better Choice promotion, USAID/PSI Guyana, as part of their social marketing programme, is also opening up a new facility to cater for Voluntary Counselling and Testing for the virus. The facility, `New Start’, soon to come on stream, will take Voluntary Counselling and Testing Services to public and private groups throughout Guyana. The service will be provided by trained Counsellors in a highly professional setting, with confidentiality guaranteed. The service which offers pre-and post test counselling can be accessed at for only $200.

At Thursday’s launch, the `New Start’ plaque was unveiled by United States Ambassador, his Excellency Roland Bullen and Minister of Health, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy.

And a third element of the HIV/AIDS prevention campaign was the introduction of the condom-distribution service, offering low cost high-quality condoms. The latex condoms, appearing under the brand name `VEVE’ which will be available locally at venues such as bars, clubs and street vendors, for a nominal fee of $60 per packet of four.

Marketing Manager Nazim Hussain said that it is anticipated that the initiative will promote a robust, nation-wide information, education and communication campaign directed at behaviour change, particularly among youth and high risk groups such as commercial sex workers and their clients, and men who have sex with men.

Speakers at the ceremony were: Mr. Bullen; Vice President PSI/Washington, Ms. Sally Cowall; Dr. Ramsammy; Country Director PSI, Mr. Moussa Abbo; and Director of the National AIDS Programme Secretariat, Dr. Morris Edwards.

Ms. Cowall arrived in Guyana late last week, specially for the ceremony. Dr. Ramsammy who made his first public appearance since being overseas for medical treatment also arrived in Guyana Thursday morning.