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Positive move

John Sealy

Positive move

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Concerned about the level of stigma and discrimination, the National HIV/AIDS Commission is launching a T-shirt campaign to help make life easier for people living with HIV/AIDS.
Dr Henrick Ellis, chairman of the National HIV/AIDS Commission, announced the drive yesterday, describing it as innovative, radical and provocative.
The words “HIV Positive” are printed on the front of the shirts while the back states: “Should it matter? Treat others as you would like to be treated.”
Ellis told a Press briefing at the commission’s headquarters at Warrens, St Michael, that he got the idea in Austria where he saw hotel workers wearing the shirts.
On returning to Barbados, he challenged himself to get Barbadians to wear the shirts to show they were saying goodbye to stigma and discrimination.
Ellis conceded that he was feeling a measure of frustration at how Barbadians were responding to the AIDS education.
“In Barbados the largest denomination is Christian. If we should live what we were taught, then we would not have to expend scarce resources designing to counter stigma and discrimination.”
Ellis said the HIV community was happy with what the commission was doing and hoped the day would come when they could “speak, as in other open countries, as they pleased”.
He said Barbadians ran into people whose HIV status they knew nothing about.
The commission feels that if Barbadians take up the challenge to wear the shirt they would be telling those living with HIV/AIDS that they had kissed “stigma and discrimination goodbye”.
The campaign will be launched at Jubilee Gardens, The City, on Saturday at 2 p.m.
Ellis said the project was  supported by Government, the church – both evangelical and Anglican, the unions, the Barbados Employers’ Confederation and United Gays and Lesbians Against AIDS Barbados, among others.