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Dec 1, 2004

AIDS walk raises consciousness

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Today is World Aids Day and Belize, with one of the most serious rates of infection in the Caribbean and Central America, is not taking the observance lightly. News 5′s Patrick Jones reports on one event in Belize City that hopes to keep the problem in the public eye.

Patrick Jones, Reporting

The annual AIDS march took hundreds of students, dignitaries, advocates and families of persons affected by the disease through downtown Belize City. Minister of Health Vildo Marin says it is all part of the awareness campaign.

Vildo Marin, Minister of Health

?This HIV/AIDS epidemic is very disastrous. We must all put our efforts to make sure that we prevent it.?

Patrick Jones

?But prevention is going to take more than just marching in a parade.?

Vildo Marin

?Indeed. But we need to make every man woman and child in Belize know that this disease has no cure and that it kills and hence the reason why we?re trying to do awareness work such as this one. ?

But all that work means nothing if the message is not getting through to those who need it most. And on this World AIDS day, those at the forefront of the fight against the disease appear split on whether or not the country is making progress.

Vildo Marin

?We?re not; so sorry to say that we are not. But we will never know exactly how our programmes are working if our Belizean people don?t come forward and get tested.?

Nurse Guillermina Heredia, AIDS Awareness Activist

?Well I think yes. Many times we believe that no because we see the statistics show that there are more people getting infected. But at the same time them message is getting through to many people.?

Patrick Jones

?What can we tell young people who are getting infected hand over fist these days? What can we tell them about this disease??

Nurse Guillermina Heredia

?First thing we need to tell them is for them to listen what we have to say about safe sex. The other thing is to abstain. But if not, condom is the only thing that could prevent getting the virus. And they must use the condom at each sexual intercourse.?

Statistics show that the nation?s productive sector, that is persons between the ages of fifteen and forty-nine, are the ones most affected by the disease. And while this does not bode well for the future, one parent, Marie Ysaguirre, who lost her son to the disease, says we must not give up the fight.

Marie Ysaguirre, AIDS Awareness Activist

?All the trauma we went through and his begging me mommy please if I don?t make it, please go out there speak to the youths; speak to the young people; he said tell them what you use to tell me, because if I had listen to you I wouldn?t be where I?, at right now.?

And it is her untiring efforts at public awareness that has earned Ysaguirre a long service award along with Nurse Heredia from Orange Walk. Both recipients say the award is not for them personally.

Marie Ysaguirre

?The first person that comes to my mind to say thanks to is my son. Because like I said he has been the push behind me where this is concerned; where HIV/AIDS is concerned.?

Patrick Jones

?So you?re receiving this in his name??

Marie Ysaguirre

?Yes I am.?

Nurse Guillermina Heredia

?The thought is I am quite happy appreciate it but at the same time I think this award I would like to dedicate it to the persons that have died with HIV/AIDS to all the families, the mothers, the fathers, the children that had cried, and also to my colleague sin Corozal who have worked with me hand in hand for the last fifteen years.?

Patrick Jones, for News 5.

Apart from Heredia and Ysaguirre, the other persons who received public recognition for their years of dedicated service to the fight against HIV/AIDS are: Doctor Pedro Arriaga, Nurse Carol Tennyson, and George Carr.

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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