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Posted: Wednesday 20 June, 2007 at 3:46 PM
By: Mutryce A. Williams
    By Mutryce A. Williams
    In a heated debate with my sister Julie and some friends, the other day several societal problems were raised including the issue of HIV/AIDS. The common thread in the discussion was who or what was blameworthy. For each and every societal problem we had someone else or some extenuating circumstance to blame. We blamed the parent. We blamed the church. We blamed the educational system. We blamed the government. As I became an observer rather than a participant in the debate I attributed this to the culture that we cultivate. The finger never points inward but rather outward. You need only turn on some of the popular radio programs to hear this because rather than calling in to offer solutions. We call in to point the finger and to blame.
    Even as children when we get into trouble we always find something or someone to blame. We are not taught the principle of individual responsibility. Maybe it instinctive, as it is always somebody else's fault. As children some of us had imaginary friends or the Jumbie who always seemed to be causing mischief because whenever anything happened it was never our fault. For some parents rather it is very easy to blame the "bad-minded company" that their children keep. The list goes on.
    We are not apt to accepting culpability for our actions. What I am trying to get across is that we need to instill within ourselves the principle of individual responsibility. This may actually assist in curbing some of our societal problems including stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS. I know that we have asked ourselves several questions over the years. Are the HIV/AIDS campaigns effective? What more can be done to stop the spread of the disease? Why aren't people abstaining? Why aren't people being faithful? Why aren't people practicing safe sex? Why are people refusing to get tested?
    We have dialogued internationally, regionally and nationally to try and stop the spread of the disease. We have massive national campaigns. We see the posters all over town. We see the commercials on the television.  We have done several programs in schools and the various work places. We hold the marches. We have island wide motorcades. We have the recent slogan and logo, "Got It! Get It!" This is that yellow and black circular sign that let you know whether or not a retailer sells condoms so that you may go into that store and purchase. The Health Centres offer condoms free of cost. We hear it time and time again...Know Your Status! Get Tested!"  HIV/AIDS testing is offered free. Why is HIV/AIDS on the rise? Why aren't we taking responsibility for our own lives, our welfare or our health?
    As the debate on HIV/AIDS issue continued, I heard the, "sex aint sweet with condom, I going can't feel nothing... you women get offended when we men want to use condom, cause all you think we saying all you not women need to be more assertive and stand up for yourselves...why I going be in a relationship and want use man don't cheat on me one he have, I can put my life on woman is a one man woman...well all you want life cease cause if everybody wear condom then wha how we going get child...I not getting tested, I prefer not to know, when I dead I dead&I don't like needles so I will never get tested... I can't get HIV/AIDS, that aint for me." INDIVIDUAL RESPONSIBILTY! You cannot vouch for anyone but yourself. When it is all said and done, it's not just enough to say, "he made me do it!" or "she made me do it." The stakes are too high. Why play Russian roulette with your life?
    The debate took me back to an appearance on Inside the News on WINN FM that I did a few months back. The former National HIV/AIDS Coordinator Ms. Marlene Liburd was also a guest on that show. She came on to create HIV/AIDS awareness and let people know what the reality of the situation was, as HIV/AIDS is a rather serious issue. One of the panelists said something that totally blew me out of the water and it remains etched in my mind. I was shocked at what was said and by the individual who said it, because as a medical doctor he should have known better. The gentleman said that the government was responsible for the spread of HIV/AIDS. 

    He claimed that " things was so bad in the country" that young women had to prostitute themselves so that they could make a living and thus this put them at a higher risk for contracting the disease." As a humanist, I took issue with this because HIV/AIDS is not by any means a political issue. It is a human issue. It should not have been used as a tool or weapon to gain political mileage. The statement was also misleading because HIV/AIDS is not a disease that plagues sex workers. Any and everyone can get HIV/AIDS. 

    This is the message that I know Ms. Liburd came to relay to the populace. As a humanist I am quite aware that ignorance through the form of misinformation and miscommunication are two things that assist in the spread of HIV/AIDS. As a humanist I was appalled because what this gentleman's statement most heavily conveyed was that HIV/AIDS was primarily not about individual responsibility.
    I can't honestly say that I know any right thinking person who claims not to know what the disease is or how it is contracted. We know and have the facts. I think that the public education and the awareness are there, however we keep hearing about the increase in HIV/AIDS cases. We keep blaming. I say that it is time to stop the blame game. The bottom line is that HIV/AIDS is all about individual responsibility. HIV/AIDS is not specific to St. Kitts & Nevis. It does not discriminate.  HIV/AIDS is a human issue.
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