World AIDS Day awareness conference kicks off

Ahead of World AIDS Day on December 1, the Ministry of Health’s National AIDS Programme Secretariat (NAPS) has launched a three-day awareness conference at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre in Liliendaal.

The first day of the conference, held on Friday, focused on educating young people, particularly students, about Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), its prevention, and treatment options. The conference also aims to educate youngsters about other Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs).

Programme Manager at the National AIDS Programme Secretariat, Dr Tariq Jagnarine

During the opening session, NAPS Programme Manager, Dr. Tariq Jagnarine, emphasised that the World AIDS Day theme, ‘Let Communities Lead’, aligns with the ministry’s commitment to empowering and engaging the general public in the ongoing fight against STDs.

“The way we tailored this conference is a lot different from last year … So, the first day is going to be focused on youths. Then Saturday, you can log onto our Facebook page where we will be focusing on men. Men practicing safe sexual behaviours, gender-based violence, and leadership among others,” Dr Jagnarine explained.

On Sunday, a session will be held to empower healthcare workers, fostering discussions on how medical professionals can maximise their involvement in the population to help minimise the spread of STDs.

Addressing the students present on the first day, Dr. Jagnarine emphasised the crucial role of schools in educating students about a society where AIDS is no longer a threat.

He highlighted the potential of schools to shape students’ understanding of STDs and promote responsible behaviour.

Students and lecturers from various institutions in attendance at day of one of the World AIDS day conference

“Communities, including your schools, colleges or wherever you attend play a pivotal role in fostering awareness, reducing stigma, discrimination, and promoting safe sexual practices which is at the forefront of our preventative measures at the Ministry of Health’s National AIDS Programme Secretariat,” the doctor stated.

He encouraged them to take advantage of the education and awareness sessions, and integrate the knowledge garnered into their daily lives so that they can make the right decisions when certain situations arise.

The opening session saw a series of panel discussions being facilitated by heads of various educational institutions such as the University of Guyana’s School of Medicine, the Guyana School of Agriculture, and lecturers from the Government Technical Institute.