04th April 2016
As the New Office of the AIDS Secretariat got officially commissioned today (Monday), Minister of Health and the Environment, Molwyn Joseph, promised to fight vigorously for patients who are living with the dreaded disease.
Speaking at the official dedication ceremony of the new AIDS Secretariat's Office at the corner of Long and Temple Streets, Joseph emphasized that for too long, people living with HIV/AIDS have had to hide their face in shame and fear of victimization.
The Health Minister speaks of Legislation as a tangible means of protecting HIV/AIDS victims from discrimination.
"So where do we go from here? We have a nice facility but that is not the end of the story, we now have to pass a legislation in Antigua and Barbuda that not only discourage discrimination but wherever it is found, there will be sanctions against discriminating against anyone HIV and AIDS, Joseph said.
Mr. Joseph stated that the time has come for Antiguans and Barbudans to stop settling for mediocrity and strive to attain higher standards in anything they do as global standards will demand nothing less.
Looking back on what transpired at the AIDS Secretariat before his tenure as Minister of Health and the Environment, Joseph questioned the reason why adequate facilities were not provided for the staff to function more effectively.
"So what was needed is an environment where they can be psychologically lifted so they can feel not only the care of the people who work at the Secretariat but the care of the nation itself and consider them capable of being productive citizens of Antigua and Barbuda and there is no evidence that they cannot be productive citizens", Joseph continued.
AIDS Programme Manager Delcora Williams lauded government officials and the staff who all played major roles in making the new office a reality.
She said their service to the general public will greatly improve and urged individuals to take advantage of the opportunity for free testing.
Other officials in attendance were Principal Assistant Secretary in the Ministry of Health and the Environment-Carol Mason, AIDS Clinical Care Coordinator-Dr Maria Pereira, President of Women Against Rape, Ms. Alexandrina Wong and PAHO's Country Program Specialist, Reynold Hewitt.
The function also had the presence of the first two national AIDS Program Managers in the persons of Mrs. Felicity Aymer who served from 1992 until 2003 and Janet Weston who headed the body between 2003 and 2009.
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