Minister within Ministry of Public Health, Dr. Karen Cummings today (Friday) received a courtesy call from Indian activist for Human Immunodeficiency Virus infection and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS) awareness Somen Debnath.
Debnath made headlines in 2004, when he commenced a global cycling tour titled, “Around the World on Bicycle Tour for HIV/AIDS Awareness and Seminars on Indian Culture 2004-2020”. He explained that goal of his global tour is to cover 191 countries until 2020, spreading a message of HIV/AIDS awareness and social inclusion.
Minister Dr. Cummings thanked Debnath for spreading his message to the citizens of Guyana and expressed the hope that the remaining of his tour continues on the route it started. She told Debnath that though the government is working assiduously to reduce the HIV prevalence in Guyana, his support towards highlighting HIV/AIDS among other areas will also help the cause.
“We want to thank you for thinking about Guyana and its citizens, to impart your words of wisdom about HIV/AIDS. I know that the people of Guyana are friendly and kind to listen to what you will have to say, especially since the topic is one that the government is working assiduously to reduce and educate”, the Minister said.
Debnath said that he is enjoying his stay at Guyana, the persons are welcoming since, “We are one family, we are one world”, and they consider him as one of their family members.
The HIV activist said that the neglect and unawareness surrounding HIV started growing after he read an article about AIDS at the age of 14. The article revealed that AIDS was even deadlier than cancer and told the story of a homeless AIDS patient who was abandoned by his village, and left to die alone.
He told the health minister that his next stop is Berbice to educate the persons about HIV/AIDS and the other areas he focuses on.
The avid cyclist also gives lectures in schools, universities, non-governmental organisations, (NGOs) among other institutions.
Since the start of his tour, Debnath has travelled to 130 countries. (DPI)