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Caricom Youth Ambassadors Urged To Lead In The Fight Against HIV/AIDS

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Tuesday, August 3, 2004 - (CARICOM Secretariat, Georgetown, Guyana) Prime Minister of St Kitts and Nevis and Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Head with responsibility for Health and HIV/AIDS, Dr. the Honourable Denzil Douglas has charged CARICOM Youth Ambassadors (CYA) at a workshop in St. Kitts and Nevis to become effective change agents in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Addressing the youths on the final day of their four-day strategic planning workshop at Bird Rock, St. Kitts and Nevis, Dr. the Hon. Denzil Douglas stressed the need for a strategic coordinated and sustained approach to combating the dreaded disease, noting that HIV/AIDS is prevalent among young people.

The St Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister acknowledged the vital role of the youth ambassadors in the fight against the pandemic, and pointed out that despite the wide dissemination of information on the nature and impact of the disease on the individual and society, there continues to be an increase in the incidence and spread of the virus.

Dr. the Hon Douglas said, “Few countries now consider HIV/AIDS as only a health issue. Instead, the pandemic is now regarded as a risk to national and regional development because of the serious challenges it poses to sustaining economic activity and attracting human and financial resources.” He emphasized the need for increased access to care and greater involvement of all in spreading the message of HIV/AIDS prevention.

Noting that HIV/AIDS is the leading cause of death in the15-44 age group, the Prime Minister urged the young leaders to become vigorous advocates particularly if they are to influence their peers. He reiterated that they must be part of the planning and implementing of any initiative that is geared towards stemming the spread of the virus-“we must act today, and [act] together. Everyone must commit to positive action,” he said.

It is hoped that at the end of the workshop, Youth Ambassadors along with their fellow youth from other networks and organizations, will develop a plan of action to enhance their capacity towards making a difference in the control and reduction of the spread of the disease.
Prime Minister Douglas assured the delegates that St Kitts and Nevis would play its role in building effective youth mechanisms to assist with lessening the impact of HIV/AIDS.

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