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Jamaica: World AIDS Day

Today is World Aids Day, and as a region with a relatively high number of people living with HIV/AIDS, you would think that bloggers Caribbean-wide would be very outspoken about the issue – but Jamaica is the only regional territory whose blogosphere – as a unit – seems to be adding its voice to the global discussion.

Stunner recognizes the occasion as “a day when the world pays even more attention to the ruthless killer. A killer disease that knows no bounds and respects no life, man, woman, father, mother, child, it kills indiscriminately”:

HIV/AIDS has made such an impact on our world's societies, since it first manifested itself and it still continues to claim many lives despite the desperate attempts of our leading researchers.

But even worse is that there are a lot of persons living with this infection and don't even know. This is also so true of our tiny island Jamaica and many of our neighboring Caribbean islands. Despite the many AIDS campaign and effort to curb the rate of infection, this malady continues to grow like an unstoppable monster.

On learning that “AIDS is the second leading cause of death for youths between the ages of 15 and 24″ in Jamaica, Iriegal‘s main concern is the young people. In another post, she writes:

I feel that more education needs to be given to the school children at an early age. Not talking about sex is not going to have it go away.

At the same time, she feels torn over her country's newly adopted National AIDS/HIV Workplace Policy:

The policy it seems will enable countries to screen employees for the virus as a means of preventing the spread of the disease. There is also support for many who have already contracted the disease.

I don't know how I feel about this. Is it and invasion of privacy? Aids still has so many bad stigmas to it. I can imagine and employer who finds out his employee has AIDS or HIV POSITIVE might use this as a means to have them fired or (with the current homophobic atmosphere on the island) place them in danger.

What happens when the investigations turn to the schools? I fear for the young children who already have the virus. Being ostracized is the least of their concerns.

Jamaica Salt is a tad more optimistic and believes that Jamaican celebrities have a key part to play in education and HIV/AIDS awareness:

It is being reported how there has been a thirty per cent decrease in the number of new AIDS cases being reported which is certainly good news and reflects the huge work that has gone into raising awareness.

I think that in particular the drive to include dancehall artists and promoters for music events in bringing home this message is a good idea. I went to a concert which which was giving away free condoms and had an information stall and there were artists there too talking on this issue. It is with getting these high profile and influential guys and girls to do something useful with their fame.

Meanwhile, Life, Unscripted, on the Rock has a few ideas about “what can you and I do to fight the far greater epidemic of fear, ignorance, and prejudice against HIV/AIDS, and persons living with the disease”, while Stunner reiterates the steps everyone can take to help protect themselves “from ever contracting the disease”, adding:

We are all affected by this disease in some way or the other as it is a worldwide disease and not limited to any nationality or ethnic group. So let us always protect ourselves from this killer disease. Also HIV/AIDS does not discriminate, so neither should we, and as such we should treat people living with this disease as a fellow human beings.

“World Aids Day, December 1″ – Thumbnail photo by by Sully Pixel, used under a Creative Commons license. Visit Sully's flickr photostream.

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