The Gambia Red Cross Society, which is a sub-recipient to the Global Fund HIV/AIDS Round 8, through Action Aid International The Gambia, in partnership with the National Aid Secretariat, NAS, recently held a bicycle trek on the theme 'Riding Against Stigma and Discrimination'.
The bicycle trek, which started from Pirang in Kombo East District of Western Coast Region ended at Governor's office in Brikama.
In his welcoming remark, Mr. Lamin Camara, GRCS's acting Branch Coordinator for West Coast Region, said the occasion was meant to sensitise and remind the public about their role in giving hope to those living with HIV and AIDS.
"The way we treat them in society can either help or destroy their self-image for there are still too many misconceptions concerning this pertinent issue. Our society in which we live still needs to be taught how HIV and AIDS could be transmitted from person to person, because lack of enough information can lead to stigmatisation and discrimination," said Mr. Camara.
For his part, Mr. Alpha Khan, deputy Director of NAS, said HIV and AIDS is major development issue.
He said since the outbreak of the pandemic, it has killed millions, separated families, destroyed and improvised communities.
He noted that in some countries life expectancy has fallen by more than twenty years.
According to him, the scale of the epidemic is causing informal social safety nets to collapse, thus overall healthcare is under pressure as health services struggle with mounting demands and workforces being decimated with severe consequences for investment production and per capita income.
He further stated that The Gambia Red Cross society as a sub-recipient of the HIV grant under Action Aid International The Gambia has a very critical role in the global fight against this disease.
'This partnership framework, he added, is very significant as it is aligned to our humanitarian mandate of alleviating the suffering of the people."
To achieve the Millennium Development Goals, he said, "we need to break with business as usual and dramatically accelerate and scale up action." This, he said, can only be made possible, if all stakeholders join hand and fight against HIV and AIDS.
He said one of the societies that have joined the crusade is The Gambia Red Cross Society, as according to him, they have supported such partnerships in advancing the action on young people infected or affected by the scourges of HIV/AIDS.
He promised that NAS will continue to partner with GRCS, to further expand and accelerate the response in the country.