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Recent HIV/AIDS Situational Response Analysis --- Cause For Grave Concern

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Contact: Rose Marie Harris

Monday, May 12, 2003 - Health officials are expressing alarm at the recently submitted situational response analysis of HIV/AIDS in St. Lucia. The report revealed that the HIV/AIDS pandemic has taken a significant hold particularly on the island’s female population. The report goes on to say that over the last five years there has been an increase in HIV/AIDS cases among females; more men are infected but a higher proportion of women die from the disease.

Physician and AIDS advocate, Dr. Marie Grandison-Didier, says that this recent revelation means that the disease can affect the entire family given the role of the women in the home. Even more serious is the fact that the disease is more prevalent among the young female population.

“Young females are vulnerable because one they often begin their sexual activity with males who are much older than them and those males are sexually experienced and come to these relationships already carrying STDs which make them more prone to picking up HIV if it is present there. And also because when these males come to those females sometimes they are already infected. There are a lot of social and monetary things going on there. A lot of these young girls enter those relationships because there is a benefit to them, a benefit in terms of monetary assistance,” Dr. Didier explained.

Dr. Didier reiterated that women in dire economic straits would resort to whatever means necessary to feed herself and family whether those means are safe or not. She said that if HIV/AIDS is to be tackled, the economic factors spurring the spread of the disease need to be confronted as well.

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