Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 2nd 2017 Contents A10 news
guardian.co.tt Thursday, February 2, 2017
Caribbean second in HIV prevalence
The Caribbean remains the
second most affected region in
the world for HIV with an es-
timated 1.1 per cent prevalence
rate. In addition, the region's
women, girls and young peo-
ple have not been adequately
enabled to fight the virus and
there has been little change in
prevalence among vulnerable
groups, such as men who have
sex with men and transgender
This data was given by director
of the Caribbean Regional Aids
Healthcare Foundation Kevin
Harvey at the start of a Pan Car-
ibbean Partnership Against HIV
and Aids (PANCAP)consultation of
Caribbean faith leaders at the Hyatt
Regency, Port-of-Spain, yesterday.
The consultation, which is aimed at
ending the fight against HIV and
Aids by 2030, is being co-funded
by the Global Fund to Fight Aids.
Harvey said there had been nota-
ble gains in important areas such as
improving access to anti-retrovi-
ral drugs, reducing mother to child
transmission and some countries
have halted the spread of the virus.
However, there must multi-sec-
toral involvement at every level
and by every segment of society
in the fight against the virus.
(IRO) member Pundit Bramdeo
Maharaj appealed for unity and
said marginal groups such as les-
bian, gay, bisexual and transgender
must beincluded.However, Roman
Catholic Archbishop Joseph Harris
said while the church openly wel-
comed gays it was against the actual
practice of homosexuality.
"I am not going to say gays can't
come to my church because I will
not discriminate against them in
any way. There are gay people and
there is homosexual activity and we
have to make a distinction between
that," he said.
"We have many people who are
gay but don't engage in homosexual
Harris said some priests and
religious leaders have openly
condemned gays but he does not
condone such behaviour.
"Every person is made in the im-
age and likeness of God and they
have to be respected and loved," he
said, adding that in the fight against
HIV there should be abstinence
from sexual activity.
Minister for Gender Affairs
and Child Development Ayanna
Webster-Roy said she support-
ed a multi-sectoral approach as
meaningful social change could
not happen with only Government
'The hosting of this consultation
demonstrates that there is an un-
derstanding of the over arching
influence of faith and the impor-
tant role of faith communities in the
scale up of HIV prevention, treat-
ment, care and advocacy," she said.
Aids healthcare director:
The Salaries Review Commission, not Parlia-
ment,is the proper body to deal with pension plan
access for senators,Agriculture Minister Clarence
Rambharat said on Tuesday.
He did so as he vetoed a motion by Independent
Senator Dr Dhanayshar Mahabir for senators to access
pensions. Mahabir had moved a private motion claiming
discrimination in law concerning retirement allowances
However, Rambharat said he didn't support the mo-
tion since the Senate risked being seen as self-serving.
He noted Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley's position,
while in Opposition, that it wasn't appropriate to hike
the salaries of Members of Parliament given the state
of the economy. He said the People's Partnership Gov-
ernment had shelved salary increase plans following
Rambharat disagreed with Mahabir's claims of dis-
crimination and said the motion was premature.
"The SRC (Salaries Review Commission) is the place
for this. We should await SRC deliberations," he said.
Mahabir had earlier argued that Cabinet ministers who
earn $41,030 monthly have a pension plan. Non-Cabinet
ministers earn $33,030 and parliamentary secretaries,
senators and other ministers earn $13,060. He said the
SRC hadn't mandated pension access for senators and
others who are only legislators. This affects all 24 sena-
tors, Government, Opposition and Independents.
He said he didn't seek this for himself , but for fu-
ture senators, since people only accessed pensions after
serving a long time in the Senate---eight years and he
had only served four.
Mahabir said he was calling for the change to put the
situation in line with International Labour Organisation
(ILO) treaties on employment. He said there was no
justification for senators' exclusion.
"To be elected isn't sufficient for discrimination,"
Mahabir criticised the media, claiming they regarded
senators as "vagabonds and rogues" and in the absence
of information sometimes made up things.
Minister of State with the Office of the Prime Minister with the responsibility for HIV
and AIDS Ayana Webster-Roy, second from right, chats with panelists following the
opening ceremony of the Faith Leaders' consultation Pan Caribbean Partnership
(PANCAP) against HIV/AIDS at Hyatt Regency, Port-of-Spain, yesterday. From left is
Bishop Philip Silvin Wright, Behavioral specialist/PANCAP Coordinating Dereck
Springer, UN Secretary-General Special Envoy Dr John Green, Archbishop Joseph
Harris and Pundit Bramdeo Maharaj. PHOTO: NICOLE DRAYTON
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