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Sexually active persons not using condom protection

Sexually active persons not using condom protection

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Although close to 100 per cent of Vincentians are aware of how HIV/AIDS is spread, only 20 per cent used a condom the last time they had sex with someone other than their live-in partner.{{more}}

Adventure, Culture, Taboo, Stigma and Discrimination are some of the reasons given by psychologist Jozelle Miller to explain what some may consider puzzling behaviour.

Miller was responding to a recent survey conducted in the OECS, which made some startling and even disturbing revelations about HIV/AIDS awareness and behaviour in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

According to the survey, 97 per cent of the persons polled knew that HIV could be transmitted during sexual intercourse. The survey further revealed that an average 20 per cent of these persons reported that they used a condom the last time they had sex with someone they were not married to, or did not live with.

Miller, speaking to Searchlight, said that getting the information is one thing, but persons need to put this information into practice.

“There is a big gap between what persons know and what they choose to do. Persons, especially young ones, see sex as an adventure and do not perceive themselves in any type of danger by having unprotected sex.”

The survey indicated that a greater percentage of women are “guilty” of having unprotected sex – 90 per cent between age 15- 24, and 83 per cent between 25 and 49 years old.

Miller said that this may be because of pressure from their partners, but women need to exercise responsibility and look out for themselves, which is sometimes difficult to do, especially in common law relationships.

“If it’s a case where a woman is empowered and independent, it’s usually fine, but when a woman is dependent on a man for whatever reason, they are more likely to go along with whatever he says.”

The University of the West Indies Mona graduate, who has been employed at the National AIDS Secretariat since 2005, also thinks that most persons have unprotected sexual encounters because in our society, sex is still a taboo in some circles, where persons are not expected to have sex, or not “allowed” to have or use condoms.

She also noted that it’s a sad situation that because of infidelity, married persons are now being advised that except they want to get pregnant, they should protect themselves.

Miller admits that positive behavioral changes take a long time to happen, but she is nevertheless calling for a complete turn around in practices if the contracting and spreading of HIV is to be reduced.

“Persons need to put knowledge into practice. There are a lot of educational programmes out there.”

Miller reiterated that the onus is on every individual to be responsible and protect him or herself.

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