Dr. Mathias Ofre, left, National HIV/AIDS Programme Coordinator; with Mrs. Lucine Pemberton Vaughan, Health Educator/Counsellor.

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts — A robust HIV/AIDS education programme aimed at enlightening the public is being highlighted by the National AIDS Secretariat to encourage primary and secondary school student’s learners to develop and maintain safer behaviours, and reduce stigma and discrimination towards people affected by and living with the virus.

“We have a school programme during which we visit the primary and secondary schools regularly to speak on sexual health and all of the surrounding issues with HIV/AIDS and the other sexually transmitted infections,” said Lucine Pemberton-Vaughan, Health Educator/Counsellor. “We are in the workplace as well. So certain businesses and organizations call us and if they don’t, we invite ourselves.”

Mrs. Pemberton-Vaughn said the Secretariat also reaches out to faith-based institutions.

“We go to churches, we are on the block, the streets, anywhere people are we are spreading the word,” said Mrs. Pemberton-Vaughn. “Even on Friday afternoons, you can see me walking down Fort Street issuing condoms and lubricants and just meeting people and having that one on one talk.”

“No sector is left untouched, we reach out to private sectors having one on one meetings with the workers to educate them about what HIV,” said Dr. Mathias Ofre, National HIV/AIDS Programme Coordinator. “They learn how they can protect themselves and provide condoms and educate them on how they can be properly used because that is very important.

“If you don’t know how to use it properly you will end up exposing yourselves to the risks of it being destroyed in the process or probably not being used to achieve a living purpose.”

Dr. Ofre and Mrs. Pemberton-Vaughn reiterated the importance of educating the public. They said education plays a crucial role in the fight against HIV/AIDS.