By Clunis Devaney
NASSAU, Bahamas – A “slight increase” in new HIV cases involving athletes and persons in the uniformed branches of government is causing concern for officials in the AIDS Secretariat, who have in turn stepped up initiatives targeting young adults.
This was disclosed Thursday by RosaMae Bain, Managing Director of the HIV/AIDS Centre. HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a retrovirus which causes the deadly AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome).
Mrs. Bain revealed that this slight increase in HIV cases has led to an acceleration of preventative efforts, particularly in schools, churches, youth groups and the hotel industry, which employs a large number of young adults.
According to Mrs. Bain, this increase, although small, is something officials want to watch closely.
“We are just hoping it is not a trend that will keep going up,” she said.
Mrs. Bain underscored that a workshop for out-of-school youth is being planned and should be held within three months. This workshop will target persons in athletics.
“We feel this is a group we need to get the message to,” she pointed out. “The workshop will be put on and funded by the Trinidad and Tobago-based Population Services International.
“This group has done work with us before with our uniformed officers, both the police, Defence Force and Prison officers. We have been in contact with them and they are prepared to fund this venture along the United States Embassy.”
Mrs. Bain said, “A number of young persons who have become HIV infected have talked to us candidly that once they go on trips to play sports that they are exposed to pressure. This is something we would work with the coaches in terms of the chaperons.
“This is very disturbing. A parent actually spoke to us and said his son admitted to him, once he became HIV infected, he knew exactly how it happened. The free life, the happy life and not having the skill to protect themselves.”
The Managing Director stressed that the bulk of new cases are in adolescents and young adults, and that the Secretariat is trying to get the message out to young adult male