Categorized | National News

World AIDS Day Celebrations Begin

Chloee Deveaux
Journal Staff Writer
The Ministry of Health’s HIV and AIDS Center has kicked off its week-long celebrations for the
35 th World AIDS Day with an assembly at CC Sweeting Senior High School, under the theme
“Let Communities Lead.”
Dr. Nikkiah Forbes, director of the National HIV/AIDS Program, read the World AIDS Day
message on behalf of Minister of Health Michael Darville and detailed the program’s initiatives.
“Cognizant of our gains, The Bahamas recognizes the need for further engagement of
communities in the provision of HIV services and has secured a work space for civil society. The
Bahamas recommits to healthcare services that are free of stigma and discrimination.
Additionally, capacity building among affected communities is important to educate and provide
clinical services to those impacted by HIV,” Forbes said.
The National HIV/AIDS Program, established by late Minister of Health Dr. Perry Gomez,
continues to lead health objectives in The Bahamas. The program’s continuing success has
helped to decrease the HIV prevalence rate to one percent, with only 3,943 persons living with
HIV at the end of 2022, but questions remain as to how this is affecting policy and the health
Earlier this year, Dr. Forbes recommitted The Bahamas to the Joint United Nations Programme
Fast Track Strategy to end AIDS.
In an interview, Focus on Youth (FOY) Research Manager Lynette Deveaux highlighted the
National HIV/ AIDS Program’s partnership with the Department of Education to provide HIV
risk reduction programs to students via the Health and Family Life Curriculum and forthcoming
policies that are being tabled.
Deveaux spoke to the significance of the success of the program and initiatives on Monday.
“The success of the National HIV/AIDS Program is related to the active support of successive
governments to fund the services of the program and a full commitment to this advocacy out of
respect for the work and goals established by Dr. Perry Gomez and continued today, under the
leadership of Dr Nikkiah Forbes. Under Dr. Gomez’s leadership, the National AIDS Program
was recognized both regionally and internationally as a model program in the fight against HIV
and AIDS.  He has always stated that the lessons learned from the Bahamas’ management of
HIV and AIDS should be used to inform other clinical programs within the healthcare sector,”
Deveaux said.
Dr. Forbes focused on the future for HIV/AIDS patients and ended her message on the
importance of allyship to help end HIV/AIDS stigma.
“We come together as a part of a global community across continents, across faiths and cultures
as we have for the past 35 years, to renew our commitment to letting communities lead. And we
invite you to show your support for people impacted by HIV on World AIDS Day and leading up

to World AIDS Day by wearing a red ribbon- the international symbol of HIV awareness and
support,” Forbes said.
The national HIV/AIDS Program is holding a schedule of events to celebrate World AIDS Day
and the legacy of the program including multiple testing events. Two public testing events will
be held on Saturday, December 9, one at Pilgrim Baptist Church and the other at the Show Love
Initiative 10 a.m. -1 p.m. in Bain Town.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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