EDITORIAL: Show your love and compassion
Today, Barbadians celebrate their 48th anniversary of Independence with the annual parade of uniformed groups, both armed and unarmed. It is a time of pride, a period for reflection and an opportunity to chart the path forward. To those outstanding men and women given national honours for their exemplary service to country, let us all join in saluting them and show our appreciation. Well done.
Most Barbadians, despite the prevailing economic circumstances, look to the future with confidence and the hope of a better tomorrow. But unfortunately, for some there can be no rejoicing in the celebrations of Independence or the coming festive season. The outlook for them appears grim and in some cases not always because of their financial situation.
Today is World AIDS Day, and we must not forget all those suffering with the disease. Some face tremendous challenges and no longer enjoy a spirit of independence, despite the gains made in medical treatment over the years.
They may be overwhelmed by concerns ranging from unemployment to HIV-related discrimination and stigmatisation. Living in a small society brings the additional problems; so because of shame and disgrace, some sufferers often do not access treatment which can be life-saving.
These inequalities can often lead to many people who do not know their status deciding not to undergo testing. This can lead to the further spread of the disease. Given the success locally and worldwide in the fight against the AIDS pandemic, this is most unfortunate.
It is not all bad news. Barbados has stuck to the targets set out for the Second HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Project despite the country’s economic challenges. One of the remarkable achievements is that since 2007, this country has recorded a reduction in mother-to-child transmission and this can continue to be strengthened going forward. The National HIV/AIDS Commission has been innovative and must be lauded for its efforts.
As we join the world today in this special observance, we must strive to unite and be one people, one community, just as we do on Independence Day. It is a time to reach out to commercial sex workers, transgender persons, those with substance abuse issues, members of the LGBT community, people who practise unsafe sex and others against whom we discriminate, so they can access the best health care without being stigmatised. The goal set internationally to eradicate AIDS by 2030 must be attained.
Barbados must not relent in its fight against HIV. It is therefore important that our churches, schools and community-based organisations continue in the efforts against this scourge and also reach out to those afflicted by the disease. It is a time for love and compassion.