Sex, Death, and Encouraging Words

St. Kitts-Nevis Prime Minister the Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas recently gave an interview to the British Broadcasting Company on the subject of fighting HIV/AIDS. His remarks included the following statements:

“I am very certain one way by which we can begin to tackle what is the problem before us is to speak openly about homosexuality, about prostitution, look at how these relate to the spread of the disease and begin to talk positively about reversing it . . .Once the practice is not criminalised, people, we believe, would be able to come forward.  You would not, say, have for example a man who is having sex with another man hiding it from his family, not going to the appropriate clinic, getting the appropriate advice and thus continuing the spread of this dreaded disease.”

Prime Minister Douglas is taking the right approach to this situation. Regardless of how one may judge prostitution and homosexuality on moral grounds, the fact is that these practices exist in our society; they are part of human existence. To pretend prostitution or homosexuality do not exist, or to stigmatize them to the point that those engaged in such practices are unwilling to seek medical care, results in a danger to all people.

Remember: HIV Ð human immunodeficiency virus Ð leads to AIDS Ð Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome Ð and AIDS kills. The virus that eventually kills does not care what the host does, it makes no moral judgements; it just follows the path nature laid down for it and kills.

It is time to move forward with vigorous, open discussions about sexual practices in the Caribbean, develop policies designed to lessen the chance of acquiring HIV/AIDS and encourage those in high-risk groups to seek medical treatment.

Anything less is simply a flight from reality.

Silence Is Not Always Golden

For the last 10 days, there has been much talk around Nevis about a sudden and noticeable increase in the level of violence. There has been one murder and two shootings reported by the authorities. There has also been a spate of rumours about chases, people openly carrying guns and other stories that cannot be confirmed, yet nonetheless persist.

It is the responsibility of journalists to deliver news to the public that is both accurate and timely. While police officials are generally open with the press about what is going on, they walk a tight rope between what they can release to the public and what they feel they must hold back in order to advance their investigations. In most cases, it is not a matter of the police not giving any information; it is a question of how much detail they choose to reveal.

The problem with this thinking is that the details which are not released by the authorities are often fabricated in the public imagination. An incident that was no more than an argument can be transformed, by the power of gossip, into a titanic battle.

No responsible person would want the police to release information that could aid a criminal in breaking or evading the law. However, many responsible persons would like to have a clearer understanding of what is happening around them.

With this in mind, we hope the authorities will take a long look at what they are saying and what is being left unsaid.