Seychelles: Candles Lit in Seychelles to Remember World Aids Day

Participants in a workshop to mark World AIDS Day on Wednesday lit candles and set them afloat in a pool at the Savoy Resort and Spa.

This year is the 40th anniversary of the first HIV/AIDS case ever recorded. In Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, the first HIV/AIDS case was detected in 1987.

This year the theme of the day is "End Inequalities, End AIDS", with a special focus on reaching people left behind.

In his message for the occasion, the President of Seychelles, Wavel Ramkalawan, said that on 1st December every year, Seychelles remembers all its Seychellois brothers and sisters living with HIV or AIDS and those who have died from AIDS.

Ramkalawan said that the commemoration of the 33rd World AIDS Day "reminds us once again that we are still facing that major public health challenge, despite new challenges. Like the rest of the world, Seychelles is experiencing more than one pandemic at this critical time. HIV infection is a pandemic too."

He said that "our local response to the AIDS pandemic has been heavily impacted by COVID-19. The 2021 statistics from the Ministry of Health indicate that every month, on average, we lose two lives to AIDS. In 2021, from January to September alone, we lost 19 people from AIDS; three of them had COVID-19 as a concurrent disease."

"We need a whole-of-society approach to address their plight and I am committed to lead from the front. This World AIDS Day, let us remind ourselves that inequalities felt by one group should concern all of us, no matter who we are," said the President.

On her side, the chief executive of the National Aids Council, Anne Gabriel said that while COVID was first discovered in 2018 and quickly spread all over the world, it only took a few months to understand how it is spread and a vaccine was then developed to treat it.

"The difference with AIDS is that 40 years later we still do not have a vaccine for it whereas COVID-19 has some that can and have been used for the last two years. Now that the COVID-19 has really attacked us, we cannot use that as an excuse not to deal with HIV," added Gabriel.

She appealed to people to continually protect themselves against both viruses.

Several activities were organised to commemorate World AIDs Day since November 22 and this included sexual education classes held in secondary schools.

The ceremony at the Savoy Resort and Spa was coordinated by the National Aids Council (NAC) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

A panel discussion was also held to reflect on inequalities and how to reach those furthest behind such as young people and key population groups including people who abuse substances, homosexuals and sex workers among others.

The participants talked about a new comprehensive Sexual Education Manual that will be launched in schools next year. The manual is being developed by UNFPA.

Benjamin Vel, a consultant, said that "the curriculum-based manual will help school children develop their skills, their knowledge, attitudes that will help to protect them and that will help to promote their health."

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