GPHC staffers, patients benefit from candid, kind ‘Condom Lady'
By Melanie Allicock
Kaieteur News
February 7, 2007

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More than forty staffers of the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) were exposed to a candid discussion on the prevention, treatment and detection of almost every sexually transmitted disease, including HIV/AIDS, when ‘Condom Lady' Margaret Knights took her fight to that institution yesterday.

The mostly female audience, from a number of departments, sat intrigued as Knights, through the use of visual aids, educated on the issues.

The session was interactive as the participants used the opportunity to ask questions and garner valuable information.

Advocating abstinence as part of the ABCs of HIV/AIDS, Knights highlighted some realistic alternatives to sexual intercourse.

This included sex toys, which the females seemed particularly interested in. The staff members were also educated on the correct usage of the female, male, and finger condoms, as well as dental dams.

Knights noted that all the emphasis is being placed now on HIV/AIDS, to the exclusion of other STDs. She, however, reminded that the latter is still very prevalent, and its presence heightens a person's risk of contracting the dreaded HIV/AIDS.

She reiterated to the gathering the importance of knowing their status and not indulging in risky behaviour, as well as staying faithful to one partner.

Educational material, along with the various types of condoms, was also distributed.

Following the discussion, Knights presented a quantity of teddy bears and other stuffed toys to patients of the hospital's paediatric ward.

As word spread that the ‘condom lady' was at the institution, scores of persons flocked around to request condoms and ask questions, as an impromptu educational session was held in the compound.

Knights also used the opportunity to distribute condoms to patients waiting to be treated at the Accident and Emergency (A & E) unit.

This visit brought the curtains down on three weeks of outreach activities for Knights, who leaves the country this morning.

US-based for the last 25 years, the energetic Guyanese got involved in the fight locally five years ago when she learnt that friends of hers had succumbed to the disease.

During this most recent visit, the crusader, using her candid approach, conducted outreach activities at schools, and the Guyana Defence Force.

However, most of her work was centred on meeting and educating persons on a one-on-one basis at the street corners, market places and car parks.

Commenting on her trip, Knights described this one as the most fulfilling, explaining that the overwhelming response from Guyanese towards her work has motivated her to do more. On her return later in the year, Knights said, she will be working towards training youths to carry on the activities in her absence.

Plans are also on the cards for the establishment of an HIV/AIDS hospice for children.