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Jul 26, 2002

AIDS Commission inaugurates headquarters

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The epidemic known as AIDS is no stranger to Belize or the media, and by now we’ve learned that whatever progress is made against this modern day plague will come in small, but nonetheless important increments. Today I was on hand for one such step forward.

Janelle Chanona, Reporting

On Monday, nine-year-old Eldrid Martinez died, a grim reminder of the hundreds of Belizean children living with and dying from HIV/AIDS.

Betty Cooper, Commissioner, N.A.C.

“Eldrid is the child who has opened many of our eyes to needs of the children in crisis, especially those suffering from this deadly disease. And in her memory I will continue to fight with your help or alone, to get aid to those children in our community who are at this very moment facing that long and hard fight that our angel Eldrid has fought and lost.”

“We must all be willing to help our children who are victims of this deadly disease. We must always remember that in life sometimes choices are made for us as children in which we have had no say. So educate yourself and don’t make rash and uninformed choice, because the innocent ultimately pays the highest price.”

And today, the men and women who are at the front lines fighting against the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Belize got a helping hand, as the National AIDS Commission inaugurated its new headquarters at number 8 17th Street in Kings Park.

But new offices aside, the commission is calling for support from the Belizean people in whatever way possible.

Dolores Balderamos Garcia, Chairperson, N.A.C.

“We cannot prevent if we do not provide, care and treatment. The two are so intimately interconnected that we might as well forget the prevention if we do not care for every single individual. The National AIDS Commission is also happy to share with you that just this week it has officially been granted sales and import tax exemptions on anti-retroviral medications.”

“Pharmacies such as Brodies, Bradley’s Imports and Drugs Wholesale Depot presently have in stock for HIV/AIDS at low and affordable prices, many of the medications. We are all too aware however, that the cost of two to three hundred dollars monthly, even though that is down from nine hundred to a thousand dollars monthly, that that cost is still out of reach of many persons.”

The availability and affordability of anti-retroviral treatment will make a difference, but until more Belizeans begin to care, the time Belize has to curb the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Belize will run out.

Martha Carillo, Co-ordinator, N.A.C.

“We are people that wake up in the morning and have HIV/AIDS for breakfast. We go through the entire day thinking about HIV/AIDS. We sleep at night, we dream of HIV/AIDS, and we wake up again thinking of HIV/AIDS. And all of you who are here, who have committed yourselves to this struggle, to this fight against an epidemic that is wreaking havoc in country of Belize and the world on a whole, you understand and you can feel what I am talking about. Sometimes they are not enough hours in a day to do everything that we feel we must do, because our mission is extremely urgent. We are running against time to save lives and to protect precious families, precious futures, and most importantly the future of our beloved country, Belize.”

Reporting for News 5, I am Janelle Chanona.

This afternoon the commission also launched its new website. The address is www.belizenac.bz.

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