Continuing to bring awareness to the stigma and discrimination as it relates to HIV and AIDS, local organizations will come together in solidarity this Sunday, May 20, joining the worldwide observance of International AIDS Candlelight Memorial.
HIV/AIDS Survivors Benefit (HASB), headed by Kevin Thompson-Delancy in conjunction with the Grand Bahama Health Services and the Grand Bahama AIDS Awareness Committee, invites residents from east to west to worship with them at Pro Cathedral of Christ the King beginning at 6:00 p.m., as they remember those who lost the fight and pray for those continuing to battle the disease.
Thompson-Delancy noted that Archdeacon Harry Bain will moderate the service and share a special word to encourage those in attendance.
“This year, we received a message from the President and CEO of the Global Network of People living with HIV. They are the persons responsible for the Candlelight Memorial. The message that we received will be published in our book this year, from our partners, Global Network of People living with HIV. We are really excited about this,” noted Thompson-Delancy.
A three-decade survivor of the disease, Thompson-Delancy, continues to educate the Grand Bahama community through HASB programs, including workshops like Positive Impact and Rapid Testing sessions.
The most recent HASB event was an HIV/AIDS presentation to Grade 9 students at Sister Mary Patricia Russell Junior High School, who were studying ‘Sexually Transmitted Diseases,’ as partial fulfillment to complete their ninth grade syllabus for BJC examinations in Health and General Science.
Thompson-Delancy was joined by Andy Laing of the Department of Health and Social Services. The duo shared some of the facts and myths of HIV/AIDS.
Laing explained the difference between HIV and AIDS and ways in which the disease may be transmitted. He clarified some of the myths of ways in which people believe HIV/AIDS may be transmitted, such as hugging and sharing personal items.
He concluded his presentation by informing his audience of the difference between the ‘stigma’ and ‘discrimination’ associated with persons living with HIVA/IDS. He distinguished the difference between stigma and discrimination with stigma being an attitude, while discrimination is a behavior.
Thompson-Delancy shared his experiences of living with HIV for over 33 years and how he dealt with the stigma and discrimination associated with the disease.
He warned young boys and girls to be obedient to their parents and teachers.
He also cautioned to be aware of unethical persons who would attempt to exploit students by buying them expensive gifts to entice them into unhealthy sexual relationships. Of greatest importance, however, Thompson-Delancy shared that he was able to overcome by his strong faith in God.
Following the presentation students participated in a question and answer session.