HIV Commission addresses concerns

The original article can be found in: The Barbados Advocate  Statement by the Chairman of the National HIV/AIDS Commission Dr. Wendy Sealy

As the co-ordinator of the National AIDS Programme (NAP), the National HIV/AIDS Commission expresses great concern in relation to the article which appeared in another section of the Press under the heading “Sex Scene: Students caught in the act on classroom video”.

In a subsequent article, in response to that story the question, was posed by Counsellor and Pastor, Mr. Roger Husbands “… what are organisations like the HIV/AIDS Commission doing?”.

First of all, the record must show that the National HIV/AIDS Commission was just as disturbed by the substance of the original article as the rest of Barbadian society as confirmation of what has been happening within our school system. The Commission, however, shares the view that the matter which involved children could have been more sensitively treated by the media house. In fact, the school’s principal when contacted reminded us that sex is biological and therefore cognitive deficit does not preclude the biology from continuing. He went on to say that the school tries to give guidance and make interventions where needed.

With respect to the question posed by Mr. Husbands, the National HIV/AIDS Commission engages a number of different partners in the national HIV response with age appropriate interventions. In the case of children under the legal age of sexual consent direct engagement is carried out by other agencies and institutions. And while we are aware of the implications for transmission of HIV in such situation, we rely not only on state agencies but also on specialised non-governmental organisations like Mr. Husbands. We, however, know that we cannot disown these children because they are our sons and daughter and are the product of the society that we now live in.

As the principal of the alleged school stated such behaviour was not limited to children with cognitive deficit. What it has posited for the entire Barbadian society is that this is not a time for name, blame and shame but a wake-up call for work that needs to be done at all levels and by all agencies and institutions. We all have to recognise our roles and responsibilities as parents and guardians and a community at large, for nurturing and socialising children and young people in understanding their sexuality and how to manage it effectively.

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