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Friday, April 14, 2006 

More needs to be done in fight against HIV/AIDS
Thursday April 13 2006

by Terresa McCall

An advocate of the reduction of the spread of and the eradication of HIV/AIDS is imploring persons to get off of their laurels, join in the fight, and quit depending solely and wholly on others to fight for them.

Dr. Kathleen Allen Ferdinand, AIDS activist has expressed that in St. Kitts, persons tend to be too much dependent on the government to deal with the issue of HIV/AIDS. She further noted that because HIV/AIDS has the potential to wipe out an entire population, individual efforts must be made to effect change.

“In St. Kitts we tend to want to see what Government is going to do. The government has a tremendous burden… ‘What are they going to do? What is this government going to do?

“What is this government not doing?’ And it is always about the government and I think HIV is about our humanity, ourselves, our children, our future. I can’t see if we can wait on the government.”

Dr. Ferdinand explained that, while persons may hold the opinion that tourism may facilitate the further spread of the HIV/AIDS virus, she believes differently.

“I genuinely do not believe that tourism is a contributing factor directly to the growing number of HIV/AIDS in St. Kitts and I don’t like when people get a bit frightened about tourism versus HIV/AIDS…

“HIV/AIDS may have been imported to St. Kitts 22 years ago but that, at this point, is irrelevant. The fact is there are people living in St. Kitts and Nevis who are living with HIV/AIDS, many of whom do not know and therefore continue to put themselves and other people at risk for getting in. So HIV is no longer imported…

The AIDS activist suggested that in relation to the issue of HIV/AIDS our attention is misdirected.

“…an important statistic for many of us in the Caribbean to remember is that, for instance, in New York City, when they look at all people living with AIDS, 46 per cent of those people came from the Caribbean compared to three per cent from Africa.

“We hear about Africa and it has the world’s worst epidemic in HIV but in New York City the majority of people living with AIDS are of Caribbean origin. Now, they are not the tourists.
“These are our cousins and brothers and aunts and sons and boyfriends and husbands and wives who come home every Christmas for Carnival, who come home in June for Music Festival and we are not worried about them and we should be worried about them.”

Ferdinand expressed that while individuals must do their part, so too must organisations in order for the fight to be one of positive effect. She spoke specifically about the church and noted that in recent times, it has been doing more to address the issue.

“The faith based community, has certainly in more recent times, been trying really hard. There are a lot of youth groups that are church based and the leadership in the faith based community has been involved in training and empowering themselves to be able to address HIV but it is a difficult area for them because they have to talk about sex.

“They have to talk about sex not just in a ‘Just say no’ manner, which is what they have done for the past hundreds of years because that hasn’t been working; it is evident even in the church, even if we don’t go outside of the church.

“We christen babies and we are baptising babies and these babies are a product of unprotected sex. So even in the church, your can’t deny the fact that your congregation is sexually active, even if you want to pretend you don’t see what’s going on in the schools, in the work places, on the playing fields, in the labs, wherever it’s taking place.

“But I think recently the church has become mobilised. They are training; they are learning about HIV, they are trying to get involved where they can get involved.”

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Seeking other HIV positive people (AIDS, PWA) to chat about dealing with being "POZ", please drop in and visit me on http://www.13km.com ;)

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