On June 2, 3006 UNAIDS report for the Caribbean revealed that AIDS-related illnesses are the leading cause of death for people ages 15 to 44 in the Caribbean, accounting for 27,000 deaths in 2005,. Further although Bahamas, Barbados, the Dominican Republic and Haiti showed they had "dented the progress of HIV" that region still remained seconds only to Africa as it regards infection rates.
More alarming data from the UNAIDS reports show that at the end of 2005 approximately 330,000 HIV-positive people were living in the Caribbean. Particularly,
-22,000 of whom were children
-51% of people living with HIV/AIDS in the region are women
- an estimated 37,000 new HIV cases were reported in the Caribbean in 2005
-12% of reported HIV cases in the Caribbean result from homosexual and unprotected sex.
-in region only 25% of people needing antiretroviral drugs was receiving them
- In Trinidad and Tobago, females ages 15 to 19 were six times as likely to be HIV-positive than their male counterparts
-In Jamaica, females of the same age group were 2.5 times as likely to be HIV-positive than males of the same age group
The also indicated that poverty and vulnerability of women as some of the contributing factors for the spread of HIV/AIDS in the region.
The good news from the report include
-varying levels of HIV prevalence ranging from 0.1% in Cuba to more than 3% in the Bahamas and Haiti.
-Guyana, a country in which AIDS-related illnesses are the no. 1 cause of death among people ages 25 to 44, had an HIV prevalence of 2.4% in 2005
-the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the Caribbean has been relatively stable over the past few years, with heterosexual sex accounting for the majority of HIV transmissions in the region
Well the writing has been on the wall in big bright red letters for a while. It is not like the people did not already have a fair idea what is happening. Yet we as a region continue to pretend and behave as if HIV/AIDS are not real issues.
I still see relatively young girls pregnant and not married, not even having a steady man. Young men generally don't want to use a condom. You must force your pattern most times and once they become comfortable as in having regular sex both parties often forgo the condom. I see women who as soon as they are away on a course or seminar hook-up with a man they have met for the first for those two weeks etc.
We are just not recognizing the monster that lurks among us. I guess we will treat this disease, like how we have treated diabetes, hypertension and the other chronic "black diseases" which plague our region. We will spend a pretty pound on the cure rather than a smart penny on the prevention.
We are happy people who don't like to bother with reality. Is World Cup that matters now…no talk of HIV/AIDS as it relates to that either, although cool Mello the mascot rocks his red ribbon without fail.