The National Aids Commission is holding a Conference on Stigma and Discrimination in Belize this evening at the Belize Biltmore Plaza. It started at 7:00 and the conference intends to share perspectives on regional and local HIV-related stigma and discrimination in Belize.

Executive Director of the National Aids Commission Doctor Martin Cuellar also mentioned that some of the latest HIV and aids data will be released at the conference.

Martin Cuellar, Director of the National Aids Commission
"The national response including all of our partner agencies and our support and technical partners including in this case PASCA from the USAID agencies are frivoling one of our most important elements of national strategic plan for the next 5 years which is for us to prioritize and coordinate the work that we are doing in stigma or against stigma and discrimination as it relates and as it impacts HIV and so in that light we've organized stigma and discrimination conference focusing on - again set against the backdrop of HIV."

"The conference opens tonight where we will receive a presentation of the results of a study that was done by the CARICOM partners PANCAP looking at what is the evidence and what is the presence of stigma and discrimination towards people who either living with HIV or those affected by HIV - what we always call our most vulnerable groups."

"This particular study looked at 5 sub-populations and to see what was the presence on stigma in those groups as well as the impact that stigma has had on their lives and so we look at fake based organizations, we looked at young people, we looked at uniformed population such as immigration, customs, police etc. we looked at sexual minorities and we looked at people living with HIV. We are looking at how these populations might be receiving stigma or they might be part of the problem and the results of that study is being shared at the opening ceremony tonight at the Biltmore Hotel and tomorrow we continue with similar reports."

"We will be looking at other studies that describe stigma and discrimination in Belize as it relates to HIV in particular, but then we will also look at stigma and discrimination and how it impacts the specific lives of those who are most vulnerable to HIV. Here we are talking about men who have sex with men, our trans community (transsexual community), we are talking people who are living with HIV and sex workers and that's not comprehensive but those are the ones we have information on that we can discuss today."

The conference will continue tomorrow at the Biltmore from 9am to 5pm.

Channel 5