#HashCon 2012: An Advocacy Challenge for Jamaican Bloggers by UNICEF Jamaica

#HashCon 2012: An Advocacy Challenge for Jamaican Bloggers by UNICEF Jamaica

This post was made in submission for the UNICEF Jamaica #HashCon2012 “Positive SHEroes: Strong women working towards an AIDS-free generation”. Click here  for more info.

When AIDS emerged in the 1980, it mostly affected men, however today females accounts for almost half of the number of persons living with the HIV strain. Worldwide the business of HIV/AIDS is a foremost of some, if not all, governments. HIV/AIDS is describe in many circles as a pandemic, simple to say its a huge problem. While much have been done to advance knowledge of HIV through awareness and science, several barriers/challenge exist, chief among them are challenges faced by women; the general focus of what today’s post will be about.

A few years back, at the peak of my youthful exuberance, I interviewed a young man who was HIV-positive. The interview was a enlightening one, and was done for a World AIDS piece. Through the interview I learnt of the challenges and the daily encounters of a male living with “the most deadly virus”. It was also a window for me as I later spoke with females who also had HIV, it was from there that I saw the challenges that they face and found it fitting to take part in the UNICEF SHEroes competition.

The use of ‘Sheroes’ is a gender specific term to the often male thought of ‘heroes’, it gives a feminine touch and focus.

The number of HIV-positive women and girls continues to increase. From the statistics most of the females who suffer from “the deadly virus” or “big A”, as it is often refer by the common-man locally, are usually in the prime of their productive lives. In that they are often young females, fruitful, with a whole future ahead. Many persons are at times dumbfounded as to how members of our society still manage to contract HIV, particularly young people, despite what they consider increase awareness, access to contraceptive, all with the aide of technology.  Whilst those might be right, the issues are far more entrenched. They are entrenched in:

1. The power of condom negotiation with their partner(s)

2. Cultural/Religious Ideologies

3. Comprise standards

4. Awareness

All of which can be solved.

The solution to these cannot be attain overnight, neither can they single-handed be achieved by a lone female. It requires the empowering of our women to challenge the inequities of society and to stand firm in matters of sexual reproductive health. Most of all our women need us; the society, men, persons of influence in society that people listen to/have an audience or can impact change to challenge existing culture. However, it is through small challenges that discrimination, unemployment, abandonment, violence or other seclusion/ills against our women can change once they are identified as being HIV-positive. It is imperative to note that change will not come overnight, however change can happen with the support of the society at large.

In matters of condom usage, while its general seen that the man should carry the condom a woman should always have a pack of condom, after all sex is not a one-person show. Women MUST insist on their partners “no glove, no love”. The decision to protect ones health, whether HIV or otherwise lies with you.

The idea of a christian majority country or the cultural proposition that a wife/woman should submit to her husband/man, should not foolhardy be followed. I’m not about gaining the wrath of my fellow male species, so allow me to defend myself. A man and his significant other should be open to dialogues about matters of the heart and sex. One should know what the other prefers, dislike and most importantly not to put their partner at risk. Each should know the other status, with mutual HIV testing at random intervals to reaffirm trust that each other is HIV-free. There are talks in certain quarters that men are not opened to the idea of doctors, however if a man loves and respects you he will make the visit.

Live by standards, lay grounds about how intimate involvement will work or expectations. Multiple partners, cheating, no-condom/’bare-back’ and dishonest should not be the basics on which relationships are built. Indicate to your partner that these will not be tolerate, once these are outline at the get-go a man gets the indication the standards by which the relationship will be judged.

Another thing one must be aware of each other status, as well as the methods available to protect each other. Whether it be the female condom with the use of spermicide, dental damps, or other forms of contraceptives. Including the contraceptives that should be used along with other methods to prevent sexually transmitted infections. As we look to greater awareness and break barriers, let us look to advancing the rights and sexual reproductive health of females living with HIV. It could happen to anyone, get the knowledge of HIV/AIDS, and correct erroneous information were they are being communicated.

My final comment might cause some persons to hurl missiles at me…but here goes. If a female “locks shop” (no sex) because her partner refuses to wear a condom he will get the message that she is firm about protecting herself. Don’t risk your life for a one fling/sex because your man doesn’t want to wear a condom, don’t be guilty by the idea/thought of him straying; it sounds hard but your life carries more value.

The power is in all of us, let’s not be a victim. Negotiate condom usage…no glove, no love.