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John Keells launches second phase of HIV/AIDS awareness campaign

John Keells Social Responsibility Foundation's HIV/AIDS Awareness Campaign has entered its second phase, with the objective of raising awareness among vulnerable groups and external communities around the business locations of the John Keells Group.

The second phase was launched in Hikkaduwa and was attended by many dignitaries, including the Divisional Secretary, Deputy Mayor and other local government officials, religious leaders, the medical officer-NSACP, STD Clinic of the Mahamodera Teaching Hospital in Galle, tourism officials, school principals and teachers and representatives of the police.

Speakers at the event acknowledged the timeliness of such an awareness program towards arresting the spread of HIV/AIDS in the country which has to date recorded 815 cases of infected and an estimated 5,000 persons who are living with HIV. Dr. Indira Hettiarachchi and Dr. Dayanath Ranatunga of the ILO/USDOL HIV/AIDS Workplace Education Program conducted an awareness program for the benefit of the invitees.

The first community-based awareness session under the second phase took place later on the same day, with twenty tourist guides, three-wheeler drivers and tourist van drivers participating in an interactive workshop. All participants were awarded certificates.

The programs were organised by John Keells Social Responsibility Foundation in collaboration with the International Labour Organisation / US Department of Labour HIV/AIDS Workplace Education Program. The two organisations have entered into a Memorandum of Cooperation for the development and implementation of the HIV/AIDS workplace program in and around the Resort and City Hotels of the John Keells Group during the second phase. As part of this program, each hotel will have its own set of peer educators on HIV/AIDS.

The John Keells HIV/AIDS Awareness Campaign spanning three years was launched in 2005 - the first such campaign launched by a corporate in Sri Lanka. Having identified the potential impact that HIV/AIDS can have on Sri Lanka, the Foundation's goal is to create awareness of HIV and AIDS, how the virus spreads, how it could be prevented and the care and support needed by the infected and the affected.

The first phase of the initiative (2005/06) was dedicated to building awareness among the staff of John Keells Group of companies. To date, about 3000 employees of the group have benefited from the Staff Awareness Campaign, which will also continue in parallel to the second phase activities.

In the third phase, the campaign will cover the national platform with islandwide awareness programs for the benefit of the public.

The project is carried out in collaboration with the National STD/AIDS Control Program of the Ministry of Health and International Labour Organisation (ILO).

 

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