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Saturday, April 22, 2006 

Methodist churches training HIV/AIDS youth counsellors

Saturday, April 22nd 2006

The Methodist churches have joined the fight against HIV/AIDS by training their youth members to be active in counselling on HIV/AIDS prevention, stigma and discrimination.
The Methodist churches of the Caribbean and the Americas (MCCA) on Wednesday began a four-day HIV/AIDS peer counselling workshop in the Conference Room of the Grand Coastal Inn, to strengthen the participation of Christian youths and young adults, the Government Information Agency (GINA) reported.

The MCCA comprises key Christian-based organisations - the Guyana District, the General Board of Global Ministries, United Methodist Churches, the Caribbean Conference of Churches, the MCCA women's group, the Organising Committee in Guyana and the Leeward Islands.
The workshop aims to initiate a youth movement within MCCA to ensure that youths have access to various channels through which peer counselling can be achieved successfully.

The workshop is expected to provide sufficient educational and awareness resources to the youths so that they may strengthen their means of willpower to foster changes in behaviour and attitudes toward sexuality and HIV/AIDS.

At the end of the workshop it is hoped that the youth peer counsellors will be action-oriented to implement HIV/AIDS awareness and education projects, GINA said.Minister of Health Dr. Leslie Ramsammy in delivering an address at the workshop applauded the involvement of the Methodist churches in the fight and emphasised the importance of their role.

He noted that the church is an important place where the issue of HIV/AIDS needs to be addressed because its members are the best agents to conduct campaigns on stigma, discrimination and preventable means.

Ramsammy also congratulated the Methodist church for being the first denomination to make HIV/AIDS part of its development agenda and spiritual message.

In 2005, a similar workshop was held in Barbados and the issue of youth involvement was brought to the fore. Jamaica will be the second host country for the MCCA youth and young adult peer counselling workshop in July.

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