Thursday, December 01, 2011

Dispelling Myths

HIV in Jamaica is complex.  I'm just skimming the surface with this entry in trying to create a picture of the situation. In Jamaica there is a stigma associated with HIV. Myths and misinformation about HIV feed the stigma and the fear which obstructs testing, treatment and support which contribute to the spread of HIV and increase in AIDS related deaths.  Hence, a large component of HIV reduction is education and desensitization.

Below is a picture of Milton (Jamaica AIDS Support for Life Volunteer), giving a demonstration on how to use a female condom to a very interested group of high school girls. Our table generated alot of interest with our demo penises and vaginas (used for condom demos). Jamaicans are not shy in talking about sex.
 In the month that I have been here, I have  read every pamphlet and booklet in the office, I have assisted with interventions, health fairs and educational sessions. I have talked to the health care providers,  counselors,students, and people living with HIV. All of this to try to get a better understanding of the HIV situation in Jamaica and how my assignment aligns with this big picture. The stories that I have heard are heartbreaking.  My project partner told me the story of a 7 year old girl who had been raped  by a person infected with HIV.  She then became HIV positive. When her caregivers found out that she was HIV positive they put her in a cage and kept her there until my project partner heard about her case and became her advocate. They kept her in a cage due to the fear and the stigma that is associated with HIV.

1 comment:

KG said...

That is terrible business. Yes, you're probably just scratching the surface with the plight of that girl. Keep up the good work though.