The John Keells group commemorated World AIDS Day falling on December 1, 2015 through the launch of an E-module on HIV & AIDS by Group Chairman, Susantha Ratnayake in the presence of Ajit Gunewardene, Deputy Chairman, Ronnie Peiris, Group Finance Director, Dilani Alagaratnam, President - Human Resources, Legal, Sustainability and CSR, Carmeline Jayasuriya, Head of Operations, John Keells Foundation, Dr. Indira Hettiarachchi, Former National Programme Coordinator for ILO HIV & AIDS Workplace Programme and Ayomi Fernando, Head of Training, The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon.
The interactive learning tool, which is available free of charge to any member of the public over the age of 18 years on the group’s corporate website (www.keells.com), effectively takes to the public domain the group’s decade-long commitment to prevent the spread of HIV & AIDS through education. The E-module comprises five modules that cover critical subjects including what is HIV & AIDS, how HIV is transmitted and not transmitted, how can HIV & AIDS be prevented, what are the treatments available, stigma and discrimination faced by persons living with HIV or AIDS, the policies on HIV & AIDS, and where to seek help. Due to the mature content and subject matter, only those over 18 years old will be permitted to access the e-module. The current version is in English while a Sinhala version will be developed at a later stage.
The launch of this novel initiative also coincides with the completion of 10 years since the commencement of the John Keells HIV & AIDS Awareness Campaign. The initiative which was launched in 2005 in collaboration with the National STD/AIDS Control Programme, ILO/USDOL HIV & AIDS Workplace Education Project and the Employer’s Federation of Ceylon aims at preventing the spread of the virus and eliminating stigma and discrimination attached to HIV & AIDS through an effective educational campaign. Over the past ten years, the campaign has succeeded in sensitizing various communities in the country including staff of the John Keells group, external corporates, factories, hotels, security forces and police, prisons, government institutions, schools and educational institutes numbering over 84,400 to date.
Issuing a message to mark World AIDS Day, Susantha Ratnayake, Chairman, John Keells Group, stated: “The primary cause for the spread of HIV & AIDS continues to be ignorance. Many people are still unaware about how to protect themselves and others from HIV while stigma and discrimination remain a reality for those who are living with HIV. World AIDS Day thus reminds us that society is still at risk and there is still a vital need to increase awareness, fight prejudice and protect the rights of persons who are living with HIV. I am delighted to announce that the John Keells group will be taking our awareness campaign to the public domain through the launch of the E-module on HIV & AIDS on December 1, 2015 to mark World AIDS Day. I urge you all to unite with us in working towards combating this issue within and outside the workplace. Through this collective effort, I am sure we will be able to combat the spread of this disease in Sri Lanka.”