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Jamaica has second highest fertility rate in Caribbean

Monday, October 28, 2013 | 1:36 PM    

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KINGSTON, Jamaica – Jamaica has the second highest fertility rate in the Caribbean behind only the Dominican Republic.

Speaking with journalists at the Jamaica Observer today, Chief Executive Officer of the Jamaica Family Planning Association, St Rachel Ustanny said the nation's women, including adolescents, have an average rate of 2.4 children.

Ustanny added that Jamaica has an early “sexual debut”, with boys entering into sexual activities at an average 13 years old, and girls by 15 years.

She noted that this points to “a clear clash” with the law and the availability of contraceptive methods, considering that the age of consent is 16 years old.  

Meanwhile Angela Clarke from Women's Inc spoke to the susceptibility to infection pointing to the high prevalence of HIV/AIDS among young people.

"HIV prevalence has increased over the year. 1.7 per cent in Jamaica, with women and girls becoming more and more infected," she said.

Clarke said that girls aged 15 to 19 years are three times more likely to become infected when compared to boys their age.

According to Clarke the difference stems from the various stereotypes attached to young, sexually active females.

"They may not have the power to demand use of condoms in their situation,” Clarke said. “This, and other factors, such as sleeping with older men for whatever reason lead to transmission. Plus, women are more susceptible to the disease based on the makeup of our bodies." 

"Increasingly, more and more women are becoming infected, but overall more men have been diagnosed with the disease. We see a rise in infection in men 24 years and over," she added.

Acting Executive Director at the National Family Planning Board, Sharlene Jarrett, said that by paying attention to minority groups such as sex workers and members of the gay community they hope to further stem the spread of the HIV/AIDS.

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