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Nov 28, 2000

AIDS fight focuses on men

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As World AIDS Day draws near on Friday; all eyes are focused on ways to slow down the deadliest epidemic of modern times. The World Health Organisation’s Director General, Gro Harlem Brundtland, in her World Aids Day message, says that as fathers, grandfathers, brothers, sons, friends, husbands and partners, it is men who most determine the shape of the disease’s progress. Locally, AIDS co-ordinator in the Ministry of Health, George Carr, says the theme, “Men Make A Difference,” is as timely as it is important.

George Carr, AIDS Co-ordinator

“It’s not an attack on men. It is that we must all be responsible citizens and the situation is that a lot of men due to our behaviour, our cultural practices, we tend to have more than one woman. If they were having two regular persons and make sure they protect themselves, it wouldn’t cause any problem. But you find that men would go out for a weekend, have a lot of alcohol to drink and that changes the picture. Most men when they walk into a bar and see the girls, they don’t want anything to do with them. But as soon as they have two rums and three beers the situation changes. They become beautiful and they must have a go. The youths of today are calling themselves dog and the word dog means they would go with anybody and everybody and this is what?s causing the problem.”

“When we look at the statistics, when you look at our population, we’re in a very bad state. We have five hundred and fifty-one people in full-blown AIDS. We have over eight hundred and seventy people that are HIV positive. Our estimation is that between six and ten thousand people with HIV and do not realise that they have it. If these people go around and behave in the same way they have been behaving, others develop it and as you plant the seeds, it grows and the fruits start to come, so this is the problem. Unless we change our behaviour, our statistics will continue to grow and will continue to increase.”

Carr says that increase is now seen most in Belize’s growing female HIV infected population. This is resulting in more children being orphaned.

In keeping with the theme of “Men make a difference” we took our camera to the streets to see how Belizeans are facing up to the

AIDS epidemic in terms of their personal behaviour.

Citizen #1

“Nobody wants to use, worse men. They don’t want to use a condom. But they say we have to condoms to prevent AIDS.”

Ann-Marie Williams

“Do you use a condom?”

Citizen #1

“I only deal with my wife, so I don’t use it because I don’t like the movement with condom, so I don’t think I will catch AIDS.”

Citizen #2

“They have to be like me, stay alone or stay with one partner.”

Citizen #3

“I protect myself with the Holy Ghost. I don’t fool around with fornication too much.”

Citizen #4

do not have more than one partner and stay with one partner for rest of your life because AIDS is a deadly disease. It’s very dangerous.”

Citizen #5

“I’m a full fledge adult now and I?m not really worried about myself. My concern is the younger generation, because they don?t seem to be very concerned about these things. It?s time that they get very serious. I think the younger generation has become obsessed with liberalism. We do what we want and I don?t think that is good enough. That is destructive, very negative.”

Citizen #6

?First of all you have to use condoms just like if you out of a plane you got to use a parachute. So if you are going to have sex you have to use something to defend yourself.?

Ann-Marie Williams

“Do you use condoms?”

Citizen #6

“Yeah! Most of the time.”

Citizen #7

“Now-a-days they don’t use any protection and they think that AIDS is not something dangerous. It is, it kills you now. For example my husband leaves me and I don’t want him back because he’s running around with all sorts of women. Those are the kinds of men who bring sickness home to their wives.”

Citizen #8

“Well, again it’s how much you value you life. We need to show people what this disease is capable of doing. It has done a lot decrease some populations.”

Ann-Marie Williams

“What do you do to protect yourself?”

Citizen #5

“I have no need for that.”

Ann-Marie Williams

“Do you stick to one partner?”

Citizen #5

“That is correct. Or I do like the religious ministers, just stay put, like the priest.?

Ann-Marie Williams

“Abstention?”

Citizen #5

“You got it right Ann-Marie.”

Activities for AIDS Week continue on Wednesday with an AIDS information fair at the U.B. Faculty of Engineering. It starts at nine in the morning.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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