Campaign urges C’bean health workers, youth to have open conversations about HIV

WASHINGTON, United States (CMC) — A World AIDS Day campaign is urging Caribbean and other health workers and the youth to have open conversations about HIV.

The Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) on Wednesday said that “Talk to Me Openly” – the slogan for this year’s World AIDS Day campaign “seeks to ensure that health professionals talk about HIV with young people, without any form of discrimination, as a way to improve access to prevention and care services”.

“The campaign also aims to sensitize health workers so that more young people including young gay men and other men that have sex with men (MSM) feel welcomed and empowered to seek and obtain the information and support their need for a healthy sex life,” PAHO said.

“It also aims to empower and inform young people, as well as to combat the stigma and discrimination that populations most vulnerable to infection experience in health services, which is one of the main obstacles to accessing care,” it added.

Marcos Espinal, Director of the Department of Communicable Diseases and Environmental Determinants of Health at PAHO, said: “We want health professionals to listen to young people and to have open, respectful conversations about HIV and sexually transmitted infections as part of the sexual and reproductive health services they offer.

“The more that youth are made to feel comfortable, the more likely they are to access and stay in touch with health services for testing or to seek measures that can prevent them from contracting or transmitting HIV,” he said.

PAHO said 27 percent of new infections in the Caribbean occur within the 15 to 24 age group.