ST JOHN’S, Antigua – An advocate in the fight against HIV/AIDS has pledged not to be discouraged even as new data suggests that despite increasing levels of education, sexual behaviours have not changed drastically.
The information is contained in Antigua & Barbuda’s Global AIDS Progress Report for January 2010-December 2011.
Karen Brotherson, who has worked for decades in trying to curb the spread of the disease, admits that while her initial reaction was disappointment, she is remaining hopeful that new means of information-sharing can be found.
“This is disappointing and heartrending but then we are advocates. We work towards educating people and we will find a way,” she said.
Brotherson – programme manager for the Health, Hope and HIV Network – said the next approach may be to find out directly why people are unable to change their behaviour and design programmes about their views.
“We need to find out why men and women continue to have unprotected sex and it’s a behaviour that must be changed.
“When we become discouraged then we are going to be lackadaisical and persons can become irresponsible but we need to see the hope in all of this,” she added.
Antigua’s Global AIDS Progress Report has said that latest statistics from Antigua & Barbuda indicate that the major mode of HIV transmission is through unprotected heterosexual sex.
Despite these challenges the Pan Caribbean Partnership Against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP) said the Ministry of Health has recorded a number of successes in its National AIDS programme.
Among them the introduction and expansion of voluntary, counselling and testing services, free access to Antiretroviral (ARV) treatment and Post Exposure prophylaxis and A Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT) programme.
PANCAP said the Intensification of Behaviour Change Communication interventions; and greater collaboration with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) dedicated to serving people living with HIV, sex workers, MSM and youth were also among successes by the Ministry of Health.
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