A team of four Rapport Members has left the Turks and Caicos Islands to attend the 2022 AIDS Conference being held in Montreal, Canada, and virtually between July 29 and August 2.
The members are Arean Louis, Arielle Neely, Danae Dennie and Claudette Rigby.
NewslineTCI caught up with the group just before they boarded their flight to Canada on Friday, July 29, and they were excited to garner important information from the event, so on their return would be able to share with other young people in the Turks and Caicos Islands, with a view to stem the HIV infection rate, while educating the populace on the dangers of discriminating against such demographic.
“I would like to thank the Health Promotion and Advocacy Unit for selecting us to represent our Beautiful By Nature Turks and Caicos Islands in Montreal, Canada at the AIDS Conference 2022,” Louis told Newsline. “As ‘Rapporters’, it is a very important function for us.”
He said since its members were seeking to revamp Rapport to make it more relatable to young people, it was important to attend the event to sponge ideas from other delegates.
“We are trying to revamp our Rapport here in the Turks and Caicos Islands, and as young people, the theme of our Rapport is to aim towards zero new infection, zero discrimination and zero new HIV/AIDS cases. I hope to gain a lot from this conference, meet new delegates and get the opportunity to share information, and to bring that same information back here to the Turks and Caicos,” Louis said.
He added: “Rapport is a group that aims towards breaking the discrimination against HIV and AIDS here in the Turks and Caicos Islands. So, we do a lot of outreach programmes…we go into the schools, and we talk about HIV and AIDS.”
Louis said Rapport has been seeking new membership and anyone between the ages of 18 and 25 can become part of the group.
“We network and do a lot of community activities together. We share awareness on HIV and AIDS.
“Right now, we are in the process of revamping Rapport. Our last project was working with AOL Foundation in South Caicos, where we teach kids the information on safe sex and STDs and STIs. We are trying the exact same thing in Providenciales, where we can meet more with the kids.
“The kids are excited, they want to learn more about it, they want to hear the information…and we have a lot of support and persons willing to help us, especially the Turks and Caicos Islands Health Information team,” Louis said.
In the meantime, Neely stress the need for membership of the group, noting also that it needs peer educators and the community backing.
“With peer educators, we go into the schools, and we would educate the students there so that they could educate their wider school populations,” she said.
She continued: “And from that we need our community Rapport members so that while some of us can go to all of the islands at one time, at least we would have about, say 50, that can target different companies, different schools, different islands at the same time.
“So, Rapport really needs members, we need those persons who are willing to put in the work and dedicate their time to educating our youth.”