The man in question is very open about his ordeal with the disease and as mentioned before has spoken at workshops and other seminar type occasions about his experiences thus he was identified allegedly by a man who had witnessed one of these events and hurled derogatory remarks at hi m insinuating that HIV positive people should be separated from the general population and other negative remarks.
On the face of it the perception is that there may have been other motives behind the attack but according to the information received and investigations within the respective parish community other persons agreed with the sentiments expressed by the lead attacker. It is not yet known how many others were involved but three were singled out as directly inflicting the first blows on the victim.
This is really surprising as given all the various social marketing initiatives on the subject by governmental and private organizations over the years and other spokes persons who live in far more volatile areas that have not experienced this kind of backlash. For e.g. Ms Anneesha Taylor who still resides in her community of Jones Town which is known for sporadic outbreaks of violence but she is respected for her bravery in coming forward as the one of the few female public faces on the disease.
Despite her fall from grace she still enjoys the respect she has commanded over the years although her rise wasn’t smooth either, she recently spoke on the issue in a documentary on World Focus where she explained why she fell but has been re-engaged by the ministry of Health who recognized her contribution towards the programs during her tenure thus she now works at a major health center in Kingston. Mr. Jason Richards, the new male public face on HIV who resides in South Central Kingston as well is another hot spot for crime and the occasional gang warfare problems also commands the admiration and respect from his peers and elders in his community.
Once a poster child for living HIV+ in Jamaica, Annesha Taylor knows firsthand that life after a positive diagnosis is not an easy one. The campaigns showing that there is life after a positive diagnosis are right — HIV is not a death sentence. But strong stigma and the difficulties of juggling family life, the batteries of medication and bouts of depression have left Annesha fighting to survive.
An extended essay by Mr. Kwame Dawes on HIV/AIDS in Jamaica is featured in the Spring 2008 issue of The Virginia Quarterly Review: www.vqronline.com
A synthesis of video, photographs, poetry and music, all inspired by Kwame's reporting in Jamaica, can be found on the interactive site: www.livehopelove.com
The real issue is how do we fight this scourge that is still present in our society? The young man should have never backed down I say, it is facing issues like this that makes the fight meaningful and bringing public shame to the perpetrators of such incidents and letting would be attackers think twice before acting out their ignorance.
Peace & tolerance