Sagicor donates to MRF youth programme on HIV awareness
Port of Spain, Trinidad—“Youths between the ages of 15 to 24 living with HIV, face challenges with balancing their independence against their need to fit in with their peers, inadequate living conditions, and financial instability. These conditions often make it difficult for them to address their physical and psychosocial health, important aspects of managing their HIV status.”
This from Dr Gregory Boyce, Deputy Director, at the Medical Research Foundation (MRF), one of the largest organisations in Trinidad and Tobago managing the treatment of HIV.
Dr Boyce further mentioned that with the advent of modern antiretroviral treatment, HIV infection has transitioned from a fatal disease to a manageable chronic condition, with a life expectancy close to that of the general population. “Once patients take their medications regularly, their HIV viral loads become consistently undetectable and there is very little chance of transmitting the virus to their partners.”
Dr Boyce gave this update while accepting a recent financial donation from leading financial services entity Sagicor. Sagicor’s donation of $40,000 will go towards supporting the MRF’s “Partnership for Youth” programme which will help the organisation to further their expansion for the next three years, beginning in 2020 through 2023.
In making the donation, Robert Trestrail, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Sagicor Life Inc, said, “Over the past three decades, the world has made significant strides in the treatment of HIV/AIDS. Our medical advancements have stumped the death sentence associated with HIV/AIDS, to allow patients an opportunity to live a productive life, contributing to the development of our economy. The team at the MRF understand and recognise that our youth deserve every opportunity to lead well-adjusted, productive lives. The Ministry of Health’s data indicates that youths account for 14 per cent of all new HIV cases and so this programme will help and we are pleased to have been able to lend our support to the MRF in this initiative.”
With Sagicor’s support, the MRF’s programme will help young people living with HIV develop leadership skills and build opportunities for them to engage more meaningfully in their communities. This follows on from the first phase of the programme where participants were educated on HIV/STI prevention, reducing risky behaviour, and adhering to their medication schedule and care.
The second phase will see a leadership development and career programme be implemented over the next three years. With it, participants will receive training in life skills, psychological and behavioural counselling, and career counselling, among other developmental programmes. Each group will also have a community project to complete as part of their sessions.
Overall, the programme aims to target 150 youths living with HIV/AIDS from north, east and south Trinidad, and transition them to adult HIV care.
Sagicor Life Inc’s Executive Vice President and General Manager Robert Trestrail, centre, along with financial advisor Carla James-Young based in the Joel Martinez Branch, hand over a cheque to Dr Gregory Boyce, left, Deputy Director at the Medical Research Foundation (MRF), towards the foundation’s Partnership for Youth programme on HIV awareness, on June 5, at Sagicor’s head office in Port of Spain. With Sagicor’s support, the MRF’s programme will help young people living with HIV develop leadership skills and build opportunities for them to engage more meaningfully in their communities.