Jamaicans split on condom use despite HIV threat

BY CANDIECE KNIGHT
Observer staff reporter
knightc@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, December 02, 2019

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The majority of Jamaicans polled by the Jamaica Observer ahead of World AIDS Day yesterday believe not enough is being done to curtail the spread of HIV, nationally or individually.

Most respondents agreed that there was much more urgency surrounding condom use and the promotion of regular HIV testing in years gone by, as they argued that the push seems to have faded.

“A wah, dem find a cure fi it or something?” Sean Hunter, inquired of the Observer team.

Commenting on the apparent loss of urgency regarding public awareness of HIV prevention, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) Caribbean Regional Director Dr Kevin Harvey admitted that here in Jamaica, and overseas as well, the promotion of condom use and prevention education, particularly targeted at young people, has faltered.

“I don't know if you remember the days, 10 years ago, five years ago, when we had major campaigns on TV and radio around condom use. We had major campaigns about adolescent health and sexual health in schools and access and condoms — they were robust discussions and so the population was exposed to those kinds of issues. But all of that stopped maybe five to eight years ago,” said Harvey.

He argued that gaps in funding and the educational curriculum are to blame for the decline in the fervour in the fight against HIV. But Harvey is expecting that the AHF's new 'Do it for your best life' campaign will bridge the gap.

With public awareness on the decline several Jamaicans, including those who know the risk of contracting HIV through unprotected sex, still do not believe in condom use, especially with their main partners.

To mark the 2019 World Aids Day our news team took to the streets to ask persons if they think enough is being done to prevent the spread of HIV, would they use a condom with their long term partners, and what they would do it they found out their partner was HIV positive.

Here are some of their responses:

Priest Flego: “No, as a Boboshanti Rastaman we don't deal with the condom thing. The Man say when the two flesh meet they become one, so we don't mingle with other [objects]. When you use condoms you can't bring forth nuh youth, and a youth we deal with. A youth afi come. If she has the virus and I don't, then a judgement ina her flesh right there so because she dishonour the levity. A nuh me give her, so weh she get it from? That mean say she woulda haffi go one side. That mean a some disrespect she gwaan wid.

D'coda Dixon: Of course I will use a condom with my long-term partner. Always. You just never know what people are up to. I don't think people feel that there is urgency anymore, but I've heard a lot of things about HIV/AIDS and how to protect yourself. In terms of protecting oneself, I don't think we pay enough attention. Would I leave my HIV positive partner? It depends. If I'm not HIV positive and you are HIV positive, then where you get it from? But if we went into it knowing his status, then we could work on that. What if it's the love of my life?

Trevaun Nish: If I find out that my partner has AIDS or HIV, I wouldn't leave her, because anyone can be a victim. I would love her the same way I did before, and try to cure it. People think it's a thing that can kill you, but if you treat it and do what the doctor says you should do, and use herbs, then you can live an optimal life. I believe in condom use but I think for some people, the only thing they want to do is have sex, but they don't want to use a condom. Me hardly hear people a talk about it like when it did just come out.

Sean Hunter: Using a condom with a girl depends on how she carry herself and treat her body. If my girl have it and me nuh have it, me woulda leave her right away. That mean say she is not a loyal girl. A God mek me find out say she have it and me nuh have it. Me nuh feel like the people dem in charge a pay attention to the AIDS thing. Ina di streets, the AIDS a get more common among we, because it still a go on and on and on. A wah, dem find a cure fi it or sumtn?

Carla Duncan: If I see signs of him behaving a certain way then I will use a condom with him. The Bible didn't tell us to trust people, it said to love them. Even your close partner can still give you problems. You see signs, you just know that you have to use it. I don't think we treat HIV with urgency anymore. I think we have become more reckless, especially the younger generation. They have sex anywhere, and they are just so reckless.

Sherene Williams: Right now a ten condom me wan use pon di man weh me have. Ten! Because the man them nasty and dirty. Them lie and them nuh like talk when them do the things, so you a have to protect yourself as a woman. whether — [I am in a relationship for] one year, two years, 10 years — condom. If I find out that he has it, me affi leave. If me negative a nuh me yuh get it from. So sir, gwaan back to your dirty provider.


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