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Dec 7, 2004

Labour officers help Anti-AIDS effort

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It is estimated that over forty-two million people around the world are infected with HIV and AIDS and a whopping twenty six million of those living with the disease are workers between the ages of fifteen and forty nine years old. To respond to this global problem, the International Labour Organisation and the United States Department of labour have developed workplace education and prevention programmes in sixteen participating countries including Belize. This morning, the Belize Labour Department and ILO’s HIV and AIDS Project coordinator Sheila Middleton donated several boxes of food and clothing to the Alliance Against Aids to help in that organisation’s annual Christmas Drive. News 5′s Jacqueline Woods has more.

Jacqueline Woods, Reporting

This year seventeen families and fourteen inmates infected with or affected by HIV and AIDS will receive a care basket, filled with a variety of canned foods and clothes for children and adults. According to the authorities, donations this time of year are especially important to their clientele.

Rodel Beltran Perera, Executive Director, AAA

?We are concerned about the elements every year. We know this is the time of the year when we start seeing cold fronts and it is very difficult for us to get warm clothes and just normal clothes not just for our clients in Belize City but in other areas where there are active AIDS committees. So this is extremely, extremely important that this year the drive does continue and does continue to help our clients that do not only need food but also clothing.?

Since 1998, the Alliance Against Aids has depended on the kind assistance of agencies to keep the Christmas Drive alive. This year, the ILO?s HIV and AIDS Workplace Education programme and the Belize Labour Department, pooled their resources to extend a helping hand.

Sheila Middleton, NPC, ILO HIV/AIDS Project

?We didn?t only want to show that the ILO project would be doing just education sessions, but we also wanted to allow people to become more aware that it is not only education that a person need, but also the care and support that persons living with and affected would need.?

?We sent out letters to all the government ministries as well as the companies we have a relationship with asking them to motivate their staff to bring in canned food and used clothing.?

Jacqueline Woods

?How will the items be distributed? ?

Rodel Beltran Perera

?It?s going to go to a number of clients we have in Belize City. They are members of our support group, there are about seventeen of them, three families, families with children, young children. They are going to be recipients of this. This year there is a new grouping and the support group of both men and women in the KOLBE Foundation up in Hattieville prison will also be recipients of this.?

The donation includes nine boxes of food and twenty-four boxes of clothing and shoes. Meanwhile ILO?s National Project Coordinator, Sheila Middleton says because it is the working population that is getting infected, they will be focusing more on preventative initiatives.

Sheila Middleton

?We just completed a survey with the population we are working with and we will be developing a behaviour change communication strategy for each of the three sectors that we are working with next year; that? the agricultural, tourism and the service sector.?

Middleton says to date, fourteen companies have agreed to participate in the prevention project. Jacqueline Woods for News 5.

The companies participating in the ILO HIV and AIDS project will develop policies tailored to their individual workplace environments.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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