Monday, May 12, 2008
By Dwayne Brown
“Out of many, we are one people” says the Jamaica motto. Is life a mystery, an unseen tale, or a simple spontaneous reaction that brings about instant change? Is this change reversible or irreversible? In Jamaica the cry ‘one too many’ has led to certain cultural and behavioral responses to the HIV/AIDS epidemic amongst the Jamaican people. Let’s assume that HIV and men is a spontaneous reaction
Hiv + man → (HIV+man)
Is this a reversible or irreversible reaction? Unfortunately, this is irreversible and is a reality for many Jamaican youth.
In Jamaica, HIV/AIDS is hurting the standard of living and social viability of youth, regardless of their sexuality, ethnicity, class, race, or culture. Even at present, the thought of being infected scares me.
The reality for my friend was not the same. An intelligent young man, who was ready to take on the world, never knew what was in store for him around the corner. On July 15, 2004, his exuberance, dreams and aspirations were robbed by his aggressors who raped him at the age of 18. Four months later he was diagnosed with HIV.
In 1982, Jamaica reported its first HIV case. Since then, the total number of AIDS related case in Jamaica has been 12,063 and deaths, 6,848 respectively…one too many.
The proliferation of HIV/AIDS among Jamaica’s young people is alarming. In 2004, HIV/AIDS was the second leading cause of death for young men and women in Jamaica.
Being sexually active is common among our peers. I can vividly recall the silence around discussing sex and sexual issues in schools and churches.
Furthermore, Jamaica is seen as a Christian country, yet still the churches fail to educate the young people within their congregation and surrounding communities about HIV/AIDS. As a result, we are not informed about how to make right and responsible decisions about our sexual health and we become more vulnerable and susceptible to sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.
We are also vulnerable to unplanned pregnancies. During, my final year of junior high school, almost all the girls with whom I had attended school , had dropped out because of pregnancy. Who are we to blame? We the young people? The government of Jamaica? Or is it in fact our parents? The reality is that far too often we are missing information and are mislead by our parents and the leaders of our society about sexuality, sexual intercourse, and HIV/AIDS.
Contemporary Jamaican society is one of disparity, confusion, and obscurity. The government has said that youth are the priority of the nation, but clearly we are not the #1 among the long list of government priorities.
One too many breaches of confidentiality by health care providers and the lack of youth-friendly services is a crucial concern among young people. The fear of the repercussions of being stigmatized and discriminated against is reflected in the young people’s reluctance to seek health care. (Disparity)
Most recently the government refused, on several occasions, to issue condoms in High schools, although they are aware that young people are sexually active from video recordings of students on the school grounds.
In terms of policy, we have a National HIV/AIDS policy. In it, for example, there is a non-discrimination clause that states “In respect for human rights and dignity of persons infected or affected by HIV/AIDS, there should be no discrimination against workers on the basis of real or perceived HIV status.” However, this is not the reality in practice in the Jamaican work environment.
Discrimination, in my opinion, is the main factor preventing the reduction of HIV infection in Jamaica. Fear of discrimination keeps people from finding out their status and seeking care and treatment if they are infected.
Homophobia also plays a detrimental role once it is perceived that you are gay, by the wider society. Research indicates that homophobia in Jamaica is a powerful cultural influence which forces HIV/AIDS infected and affected young gay men from accessing medical care. I strongly believe that the politicians and wider Jamaican society need to reform its approach to homosexuality in order to reduce HIV transmission among young gay men.
We,the young people of Jamaica, have proactively engaged ourselves in reforming health policies and advocating for changes in the government and health sector approaches to providing health services for youth. We have made strides in raising awareness about these issues among policy makers and our communities. Youth activists in Jamaica are increasingly mobilizing to improve existing policies or make it known when the policies we support are not being implemented.
But when I look within my society, I see a lack of unity and a lack of understanding of the immense amount of struggles and suffering young people undergoe, which leads back to the mystery of life.
Besides the fact that being HIV positive is an irreversible reaction it is not a death sentence∙ We the youth of Jamaica need a reversible to fight against HIV?AIDS and discrimination
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Thanks for your Donations
thank you for your donations via Paypal in helping to keep this blog going and related costs. Please continue to support me and my allies in this venure that has now become a full time activity. When I first started blogging in late 2007 it was just as a pass time to highlight GLBTQ issues in Jamaica under then JFLAG's blogspot page but now clearly there is a need for more forumatic activity which I want to continue to play my part.
Activities & Plans: ongoing and future
- To continue this venture towards website development with an E-zine focus
- Work with other Non Governmental organizations old and new towards similar focus and objectives
- To find common ground on issues affecting GLBTQ and straight friendly persons in Jamaica towards tolerance and harmony
- Exposing homophobic activities and suggesting corrective solutions
- To formalise GLBTQ Jamaica's activities in the long term
- Continuing discussion on issues affecting GLBTQ people in Jamaica and elsewhere
- Welcoming, examining and implemeting suggestions and ideas from you the viewing public
- Present issues on HIV/AIDS related matters in a timely and accurate manner
- Assist where possible victims of homophobic violence and abuse financially and otherwise
- Track human rights issues in general with a view to support for ALL
Information & Disclaimer
Individuals who are mentioned or whose photographs appear on this site are not necessarily Homosexual, HIV positive or have AIDS.
This blog contains pictures that may be disturbing. We have taken the liberty to present these images as evidence of the numerous accounts of homophobic violence meted out to alledged gays in Jamaica.
Faces and names witheld for the victims' protection.
This blog not only watches and covers LGBTQ issues in Jamaica and elsewhere but also general human rights and current affairs where applicable.
This blog contains HIV prevention messages that may not be appropriate for all audiences.
If you are not seeking such information or may be offended by such materials, please view labels, post list or exit.
Since HIV infection is spread primarily through sexual practices or by sharing needles, prevention messages and programs may address these topics.
This blog is not designed to provide medical care, if you are ill, please seek medical advice from a licensed practioner
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Recent Homophobic Incidents
CLICK HERE for related posts/labels and HERE from the gayjamaicawatch's BLOG containing information I am aware of. If you know of any such reports or incidents please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Steps to Take When Contronted or Arrested by Police
b) Only give name and address and no other information until a lawyer is present to assist
c) Try to be polite even if the scenario is tensed) Don’t do anything to aggravate the situation
e) Every complaint lodged at a police station should be filed and a receipt produced, this is not a legal requirement but an administrative one for the police to track reports
f) Never sign to a statement other than the one produced by you in the presence of the officer(s)
g) Try to capture a recording of the exchange or incident or call someone so they can hear what occurs, place on speed dial important numbers or text someone as soon as possible
h) File a civil suit if you feel your rights have been violatedi) When making a statement to the police have all or most of the facts and details together for e.g. "a car" vs. "the car" represents two different descriptions
j) Avoid having the police writing the statement on your behalf except incases of injuries, make sure what you want to say is recorded carefully, ask for a copy if it means that you have to return for it