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AIDS activist issues challenge to Vincentian men

AIDS activist issues challenge to Vincentian men

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Gospel artiste and HIV/AIDS activist Musa Njoko, who hails from South Africa, is challenging Vincentian men to drive the response to HIV/AIDS.{{more}}

“I’ll tell you why: we have more women around the world that are infected with HIV and also biologically women are more susceptible to contracting HIV. And also we also note that you will find one guy, who would have at least three relationships all running at the same time.

“So if this one individual is affected with HIV, if he is not educated and not using protection, he has three women in line to infect, one of them having a baby passing it on to the baby. If those relationships end, these three women they get involved in new relationships, maybe with a man who is HIV negative and that person may have other relationships,” said Njoko, who visited St.Vincent and the Grenadines to stage a concert on Sunday, May 29, at the Open Bible Standard Church, Dasent Cottage. Her visit was made possible by UNICEF and the Evangelical Association of St.Vincent and the Grenadines.

While here, she also participated in a workshop with youths from the Evangelical churches.

Njoko, who was diagnosed with HIV 17 years ago, said the main drivers in the fight against HIV/AIDS are governments and religious leaders, but the role of men is equally important.

She also used the opportunity to address issues of stigma and discrimination.

“Sometimes we stigmatize but we are not even aware of what we are doing. I also hope to speak of the impact of stigma, what it is and how we can address issues of stigma, because the best way to fight HIV would be to fight stigma and discrimination,” said Njoko. She said this would allow more people to get tested and know their status. At the same time, the breakdown of stigma would allow more people to converse about HIV and AIDS comfortably in the home, church and workplace without feeling ashamed, said Njoko.

Elaine King, Adolescent and HIV/AIDS Specialist at UNICEF’s office in Barbados, who also made the trip to St.Vincent and the Grenadines, said the Evangelical Churches Association and UNICEF has agreed to work with young people to see how they can enhance their skills to help them to better manage their sexuality and reduce their risk and exposure to HIV.

She said the idea to establish such partnerships was born out of a research that was done by the Evangelical Churches Association about three years ago in Antigua and Barbuda, St.Lucia and St.Vincent and the Grenadines, on the issues of sexual practices, HIV prevalence and HIV knowledge among young people in the Evangelical churches.

“They were a little concerned because it seems that the challenges which young people outside the church faced, those within the church were facing similar challenges when it came to managing their sexuality, knowledge and awareness of sexually transmitted diseases, particularly HIV,” said King.

She said also coming out from the research was the level of discrimination within the church towards HIV positive persons and this was placed on the agenda to be addressed.

While here, the team also held a one day workshop on Saturday, May 28, with members of the Evangelical churches throughout the state.

This comes of the heels of a workshop held in Barbados earlier this year, which saw five Vincentians being trained with others from Antigua and Barbuda, St.Lucia and Guyana, to teach life skills. The five were able to impart their knowledge to others at the workshop held on Saturday, May 28.

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