Health Promotions Officer in the Ministry of Health, Judy Benoit, says an aggressive campaign is being developed to deal with the issue of HIV/AIDS and other Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI’S) particularly among the young population.
In an address at the launch of the Scotiabank Regional Testing Day, Benoit said that the National Infectious Disease Control Unit (NICDU) of the Ministry of Health in response to this growing concern has begun planning a programme called “Back to Basics” which will encourage young people to take their time to get to where they need to get or where they will like to get.
“What we have realised is that a lot of these people sell themselves short for all kinds of gadgets and sometimes for things as cheap as KFC, which is not healthy in any case”, she told participants.
In referring to the gender aspect of the HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, Benoit said, “one of the things we have to pay more attention to as well, is not just talking to our young ladies, which is the mistake we have been making throughout the years, continuing with the young ladies but we have to stretch messages to the young men who seem not to believe that they too can get HIV and other sexually transmitted infections”.
“Even so when you talk to the young ladies or you look at the young ladies you will know definitely, that they would have contracted it from a man, young or old, but it’s from a male. So our messages must be specific to both men and women, we cannot solve the problem by attaching it on one gender”, she remarked.
Benoit believes that while initiatives such as the Scotiabank Regional Testing Day are implemented and monies are spent to help in the areas of testing, getting people to know their status and educating the population on these infections and treatment, the messages being sent out are often contradicted in the media.
“Because right after a message on HIV, you get a message on alcohol, or a message on some sort of not too healthy lifestyle and we tend to confuse the impressionable minds of the young in particular,” she said.
Benoit’s comments was in response to recent statements from Minister of Education, Anthony Boatswain, during a recent Sitting of the House of Representatives that children as young as 10 years old are infected with the dreadful Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS) through sexual intercourse.
Boatswain who became the Education Minister following the February 19 General Election said that the statistics is alarming among the nation’s young teenagers.
Sex crimes continue to be a challenge for authorities particularly among children and according to Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Civil Aviation, Senator Brenda Hood during a recent sitting of the Senate the issue will soon be addressed seriously.
“This is a burning issue, this is a vexing issue for every Grenadian and structures are now being put in place so that we can deal with it in a very aggressive way. We know that there is need for rehabilitation for some of the persons who commit these crimes but at the same time support is needed for their families and the victims of these crimes. So the ministry is working aggressively to put structures in place so that we can deal with this issue”, she told the Senate.
Grenada is yet to implement a national sex-crime registry where persons found guilty of these offences can be named.