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Saturday, December 01, 2007

Aids In Jamaica-World Aids Day

Jamaica’s leading gay rights activist, was murdered in his home, his body mutilated by multiple knife wounds. Within an hour after his body was discovered, a Human Rights Watch researcher witnessed a crowd gathered outside the crime scene. A smiling man called out, “Battyman [homosexual] he get killed!” Many others celebrated Williamson’s murder, laughing and calling out, “let’s get them one at a time,” “that’s what you get for sin,” “let’s kill all of them.” Some sang “boom bye bye,” a line from a popular Jamaican song about killing and burning gay men.

The Aids epidemic in Jamaica is on the rise, primarily because of the silence. It has more to do with ignorance then anything else. Aids is not a "GAY DISEASE." It is a disease that can affect anyone, kids,women or men. With the rise of drugs in Jamaica, sharing the needle is also sharing the disease.

Because HIV/AIDS and homosexuality often are associate, people living with HIV/AIDS and organizations providing HIV/AIDS education and services have also been targeted. Both state and private actors join violent threats against gay men with threats against HIV/AIDS educators and people living with HIV/AIDS. In July 2004, for example, the Jamaican Forum of Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG) received an email threatening to gun down “gays and homosexuals” and “clean up” a group that provided HIV/AIDS education for youth. In a 2003 case, a police officer told a person living with HIV/AIDS that he must be homosexual and threatened to kill him if he did not “move [his] AIDS self from here.

In interviews with people living with HIV/AIDS, Human Rights Watch found that health workers often mistreated people living with HIV/AIDS, providing inadequate care and sometimes denying treatment altogether. Doctors failed to conduct adequate medical examinations of people living with HIV/AIDS, sometimes refusing even to touch them. And, in some cases, lack of treatment in the initial stages made it even less likely that people living with HIV/AIDS would receive health care services at a later date. Visible symptoms heightened the discrimination they faced, which in turn created further barriers to obtaining treatment. People suffering from visible HIV-related symptoms were sometimes denied passage on public and private transportation, making it difficult to obtain any medical care at facilities beyond walking distance.

People come and visit Jamaica and see the beauty of the island, while the truth remains hidden. The ugly side of hatred and fear borne from years of misconceptions and lies. Jamaica’s failure to take action to stop human rights abuses committed by state agents, to take measures to protect against abuses by state and private actors, and to ensure access to HIV/AIDS information and services to all Jamaicans violate its obligations as a state party to regional and international human rights treaties.


kab625 said...

Hi. Thanks for writing about this. I had no idea. What a horrible thing to witness, and then backed by joy and song!
I assume you are refering to a lack of proper care to HIV victimes in Jamaica. As a Nurse, I have never personnally, or witnessed a co-worker mistreat a patient with AIDS. If anything, the opposite has been the case because we do realize it is not a gay disease, that it has affected each and every one of our lives. Most often, the sentiment amongst healthcare workers is "there, but for the grace of God, go I". The compassion and extra caring is real, I assure you. I could tell you many stories of how distressing it is to "lose" a patient who valiantly fights, who dies because they have loved.

iriegal said...

Kab625, it is sad. Jamaica is on the top of the Amenisty Group Watchlist for Crimes against Humanity.

To kill a man with no remorse is sad, but to deny a baby medical care because that baby was diagnosed with Aids is wrong.

As a Nurse you understand that people fear things they do not understand. Years ago, it was thought that cancer by communicating with a person who has cancer in their body. Yes, we have come a long way, but sometimes ignorance is ingrained so deeply, it is hard to let go.

Gerri said...
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Gerri said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gerri said...

Peoples misconceptions don’t make things any easier for people with HIV/AIDS. It makes the fight against the disease a lot tougher. My homeland Zimbabwe has been hit hard by aids but they say that things are becoming a little better. People are now talking about it more but a lot more still needs to be done to get the message out for people to protect themselves and others. You would even hear horror stories about infected people deliberately going around and sleeping with as many people as they can so that they too are affected.

Watch the video here:

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