February 11, 2005
Locked in battle against HIV AIDS

This week’s launching of the HIV AIDS Prevention and Control Project is timely and could not have come too soon. In the battle against this deadly scourge, no injection of funds can be too much. In our case, some $23 million has been allocated to this campaign , US$8.75million coming from the World Bank while the local government is contributing $1.75 million. {{more}}

Director of the HIV/AIDS Unit Dr. Del Hamilton and her hardworking staff have got their jobs cut out for them in this seemingly insurmountable task on getting across the message to our population. The fact that the spread of HIV in this country is in large part driven by sexual activities, makes the work of our health workers that much harder. This is a society where the discussion of sexuality is still taboo. Moreover, persons who are behaving irresponsibly would never confess to their partners, whether of opposite or same sex about their activities. The spread therefore continues.

HIV had long been considered a homosexual disease by many here. But, except we are willing to accept that a very large section of our population is homosexual, which we dismiss, one would know that the spread of this virus is strongest among the heterosexual population. It therefore behoves all of us, so-called “normal” people to stop our hypocrisy and begin to re-evaluate our sexual lifestyles. Only responsible behaviour can curb the spread of this disease among our population.

There are proponents among us of abstinence which, while desirable is very difficult for a whole host of practical reasons. On the other hand, those who promote the use of condoms should not be criticised for promoting irresponsible behaviours. But for sexually active persons, the use of a condom and sticking to one faithful partner is a very mature and responsible decision.

In this battle against HIV AIDS, we all must support the leadership being shown. This is not the time for us to be taking political, religious or any of the many sides we are so great at creating. This is a battle that requires that we all stand shoulder to shoulder, against a common enemy. The future of generations is at stake.

HIV AIDS is undoubtedly the greatest scientific challenge facing mankind today. And while at the moment medical science is left playing catch up, we must be optimistic that a cure for this disease will be found in our lifetime. Since the discovery of the virus, science has made many strides in coming up with treatments. There are today many persons who are infected and living productive lives. We must therefore look forward to the day when they can be cured.

But the message today is that persons should ensure that they are tested. It is better to know. The call is for persons who are infected to come forward, for it’s the only way they can receive the treatment they need. And while we do recognise that the fear of being stigmatised is very real, seeking treatment is always the better option than to suffer in loneliness. This is a battle we can combat together. It is one that we must win, for our children.