Saturday, April 13, 2024

‘Stand up, step up & stamp out HIV/ AIDS’


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The following is a World AIDS Day Message by the CARICOM Youth Ambassadors’ Corps.

On the first day of December, every year since 1988, the global community has united in the fight against HIV/AIDS and has used that particular global health day as an opportunity to show its support for people living with these diseases, while commemorating those who have died. We, the CARICOM Youth Ambassador Corps, add our voices to the regional call for people of the Caribbean, especially the youth, to stand up, step up and stamp out HIV/AIDS. In doing so, we encourage each of you to learn the facts, dispel the myths and put that knowledge into action within not only the region but the world at large.

According to the UNAIDS Regional Fact Sheet 2012: Latin America and the Caribbean, the statistics show that at the end of 2011, an estimated 230 000 people were living with HIV/AIDS in the region. Some 13 000 people were newly infected during 2011 and 10 000 died. Overall, contrary to popular belief, the main route of HIV/AIDS transmission in the Caribbean is heterosexual intercourse, with many new infections being linked to commercial sex work and other risky sexual behaviours.

The UNAIDS Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic 2012, identifies the Caribbean as having the second highest regional rate of HIV/AIDS prevalence in the world.  Cultural and behavioural patterns such as early initiation of sexual acts, taboos related to sex and sexuality, gender inequalities, lack of confidentiality, stigmatisation and economic need are some of the factors identified as influencing vulnerability to HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean. As such, it is on these vulnerabilities that proactive action must be focussed.

As part of our call to action, we expressly encourage everyone in the region to get involved not only on this commemorative day but to continue to make daily strides toward an AIDS-free world. This naturally entails both private and public action. Whether that action may take the form of abstinence, practicing safe sex or simply educating yourself and others to raise awareness, each of us has a critical part to play in the fight against HIV/AIDS. The future depends on it.

According to The World Aids Day website, 34 million people globally have HIV/AIDS and more than 35 million have died from it. However, many scientific advances have been made in its treatment. This, coupled with informed, purposeful action on our part can see the global dream of an AIDS-free world become a reality. In this connection, we, the CARICOM Youth Ambassador Corps, challenge you to commit today to taking on an active role in creating first an AIDS-free Caribbean.




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