PEPFAR Children Art Competition produces HIV/AIDS fight calendarThursday, April 2, 2009 – 9:04 am
Source: Guyana Chronicle
WINNERS in the 2008 Children Art Competition, funded by the United States (U.S.) President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), were presented with their prizes last week Friday, at an awards ceremony and exhibition in the National Library Conference Room, Church Street, Georgetown.
The contest, themed ‘Abstinence: My Life, My Choice, My Future,’ attracted 369 entries from across Guyana in three categories and four winners in each of the eight to 11 years, 12 to 14 years and 15 to 18 years old were awarded.
They included Lisa Narine, from Canal Number One, West Bank Demerara, first in the eight to 11 years group; Shebeke Barker, from East La Penitence, Georgetown, first among the 12 to 14 years and Catherine Oliver, from Moruca, North West District, first amongst the 15 to 18 years old.
Their winning submissions were made into a calendar, adding another tool to assist in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
The rivalry was aimed at getting youths to explore the value of delaying sexual activity and, at the same time, recognising their artistic talents.
The project was facilitated through technical assistance from Peace Corps Guyana and its coordinating committee.
In his remarks to the recipients of prizes, Mr. James Geenen, Country Director of Peace Corps Guyana, told them: “You, as winners of this competition, are role models. Role models to save people’s lives, because you, with your art work have said to the world that no one can make a person sick with HIV/AIDS except that person self.”
Chairperson of the Coordinating Committee, Ms. Desire Edghill echoed his view and added this advice: “Just as you (the winners) talked the talk, you must walk the walk.”
She said it is recognised that youths will remember HIV/AIDS guidelines if they, themselves, develop the messages rather that someone else delivering it to them.
Edghill said that enables the cascading of information which would result in more youths becoming knowledgeable through what was filtered down.
U.S. Ambassador, Mr. John Jones, also in attendance, agreed, telling the winners they have set the bar high for themselves and their classmates.
He remarked that a message as serious as the one connected to the fight against HIV/AIDS must get out to the youth of the country and the resulting calendar is an opportune method.
The diplomat acknowledged that HIV/AIDS is a scourge and knowledge, by means of information on the calendar, is a key to prevent the spread.
Jones said, even as the U.S. stands ready to help Guyana in any way it can, knowledge is valuable to the future of the country.
He commended the Peace Corps on its role in seeing the competition through to completion and declared that the participation of the youths was phenomenal and critical to winning the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Statistics from the Ministry of Health showed that between five and seven per cent of women who were pregnant tested positive for HIV and 40 per cent (40 children out of 100) born to them had the virus.
However, by the end of 2008, only 1.1 per cent of pregnant women tested positive for HIV and between two and five children had the virus at birth.
The figures also revealed that, in the high risk group of commercial sex workers, 45 to 48 per cent of them tested HIV positive but the most recent surveys disclosed the percentage had reduced to 16 per cent.
In addition, the Ministry reported that voluntary counselling and testing (VCT) sites were accessible in all 10 Administrative Regions to combat HIV/AIDS.