Stigma & Discrimination Lecture Event

Overcoming stigma and discrimination is the gravest difficulty towards achieving universal access to HIV-AIDS prevention, treatment, care and support services. This is highlighted under Section 2.3 Determinants and Dynamics of the Epidemic of the National Strategic Plan on HIV-AIDS 2007-2011 [NSP] (page 34) which reads “stigma and discrimination is the major barrier to achieving universal access to prevention, treatment and care services.” What the NSP fails to recognise is that homophobia is at the root of HIV-related stigma and discrimination, most severely affecting vulnerable populations.
SASOD believes that public awareness and education is a key part of any strategy to challenge stigma and discrimination against infected and affected communities in Guyana. In this regard, SASOD will take the invaluable opportunity to capitalize on the presence of the Commonwealth/UNESCO Regional Chair in HIV-AIDS Education, Professor David Plummer, in Guyana to give a free, public lecture with an interactive discussion under the theme “Stop Stigma & Discrimination! Stop AIDS!” This will provide a great opportunity for interested persons and those working on HIV and AIDS issues to enhance their knowledge on stigma and discrimination and thereby build capacity to engage in dialogue on these issues for social awareness and change. The event will target 70 persons through public advertisement and publicity in other networks in which SASOD is resourceful.
The activity was held on Thursday, June 28, 2007 at the Cheddi Jagan Research Centre Conference Room (Red House) on 65-7 High Street, Georgetown at 17:00 hrs. Financial support from UNAIDS for the event was expended according to lines in the final budget above. Approximately 55 persons, including public health officials, staffers of AIDS agencies and members of civil society, attended a very interactive and spirited lecture by Professor Plummer. The event served an added value for persons to share their experiences tackling stigma and discrimination and further commit to challenging these hurdles to universal access through dialogue and advocacy at all levels. Also, the forum allowed persons working on different aspects of stigma and discrimination to learn from each other and network through continued peer support within the HIV sector. Information, Education and Communication (IEC) materials, in the form of posters, on stigma and discrimination and HIV prevention targeting Men who have Sex with Men (MSM) were also distributed after the discussion. SASOD is of the view that the activity was worthwhile as a public education event as the lecture was recorded by the national radio station for later broadcast so that radio listeners may also benefit. There was also television coverage of the lecture by “First Look” of HBTV Channel 9.
Financial support for the logistics of this lecture was provided by UNAIDS.
SASOD has received the following comments as feedback via email:
"It was a very informative and insightful lecture from David. I'm glad I was there.”
"The presentation was interesting & presented fairly well. I am not accustomed to lecture like episodes. I thought there would have been more meaningful inputs from members of the gathering...only a smattering few, which can or might indicate that we don’t have a "big problem." I was telling Ruben, that we need to be more sessions like these, and efforts should be made for more, just as how you guys do your movie month."
Tags: DiscriminationHomophobiaStigmaHIV/AIDS