Friday, May 9, 2014

New Efforts To Halt Spread Of HIV Among Gay Jamaica Men

Another nice explain away of sorts in the failure by state and non state actors to address HIV prevention rates in the MSM community in particular and indeed the least amongst us who feature greatly in this cohort, the last major study in this group showed us that the numbers are still too high at 33% with homelessness/displacements playing a major role and with all this the same agencies with so much clout and visibility refuse to act definitively on addressing the problems documented and anecdotally known for some thirty plus years from the first study done in 1985.

Have a read of the release firstly and see for yourself the major gaps deliberately left out in the response to the LGBT community overall.

Homeless MSM/Trans individuals in the shoemaker gully (deceptively called a sewer to sensationalise the issue by some)

KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP):

A handful of sex workers sit on discarded cardboard along a filthy sewer channel, sharing food and razors to shave their legs and faces as they prepare for the night's labour on the streets of Jamaica's capital.

Gay sex and prostitution is illegal in Jamaica, and LGBT people who sell sex face arrest or worse. But this normally wary group is welcoming on a recent evening as a volunteer descends into the open channel with condoms, lubricant and health advice.

efforts to stay safe

"It's hard living like this, but we're trying our best to stay safe and healthy. Nobody wants to get HIV," says one of the gay men, a shirtless 21-year-old who gives his name only as Kris.

In much of the world, giving out condoms and guidance to gay, bisexual and transgender sex workers is routine. But reaching out to men who have sex with men is practically revolutionary in parts of the English-speaking Caribbean, where homophobia and laws criminalising gay sex have long driven people underground, turning them into the toughest group to reach with HIV prevention programmes and fuelling a regional epidemic.

Now, there's a growing momentum to turn the tide in Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, Guyana and eight other countries that criminalise sex between adults of the same gender. Even as funding grants get tighter, HIV prevention programmes to reach men who have sex with men are scaling up and advocacy groups appear energised.

sign of changing times

"We are in an entirely new era," said Ernest Massiah, the Trinidad-based Caribbean director for the United Nations programme on HIV and AIDS.

A clear sign of changing times is Jamaica's Color Pink Group, a non-profit founded in 2011 whose existence would have been almost unthinkable on the island a decade ago. On a recent night, founder James Burton, one of very few Jamaican homosexuals who feel comfortable disclosing their full name, wore a loud pink shirt as he spoke about HIV prevention to a group of young gays outside a Kingston shopping mall.

"This is what was really lacking before: visibility and one-on-one connections," said Burton, whose group also provides vocational training and distributes condoms and lubricant.

highest rate of HIV

Overall, the Caribbean has the highest rate of HIV outside sub-Saharan Africa, though both the overall and per capita numbers are much lower. Regional infection rates are highest for men who have sex with men in countries with longstanding laws that criminalise gay sex.

In Jamaica, roughly 1.7 percent of the adult population has HIV, according to UNAIDS. But roughly 33 per cent of men who have sex with men are believed to be infected on the island. It's the highest rate for that population in the Americas and one of the highest anywhere.

In a bid to tackle discrimination against gay men in the health-care system, the rights group Jamaica Forum of Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays has partnered with a government HIV programme to sensitise hospital and clinic staff to homosexuals' human rights. It can be as simple as training health workers not to narrow their eyes or cast judgement on any patient seeking a rectal exam.


It was only yesterday I made an entry on brother blog Gay Jamaica Watch on the arrest of one of the persons from that cohort: Displaced gay man arrested for sleeping in the Shoemaker Gully in New Kingston ... and other challenges continue to affect this younger group bearing in mind New Kingston in particular has always had a homeless LGBT population and other cities across the country also have their share of issues mostly unreported and reached by so called LGBT groups who are only operating in an HIV prevention sphere without any serious psycho-social intervention as part of their mandate.

Western Jamaica also have their own issues as this recent matter brings to bear: Montego Bay Male Sex Worker misses a beating at popular sex site and God knows how many other incidents go under the radar.

The recent "Justice for All" conference showed the glaring gaps as well despite the banding about of figures of over 13,000 MSM  (while excluding specific programs for same gender loving women) reached by the national programs why have we ended up still with homeless MSM in such large numbers yet boasts about Global Fund work.

see: 13,328 Jamaican MSM Reached by HIV Prevention says report on National HIV Program ........ but 
We must not forget the dubious closure of the Safe House Pilot project in 2009/10 which was the only residency response to LGBT homeless after which the New Kingston problems have festered to the sore it has now become. It is sad that the old ways of doing business continues in the new age, simply distributing condoms and testing and or some food in a styrofoam box is not enough when we know the simply principle of Maslow's Theory which was one of the underpinnings and rationale for the aforementioned Safe House Pilot 2009. The explosion of the populations in New Kingston could well have been averted if there was any serious interest in meeting the issues when they were screaming for attention all these years.

Must See older related entries: 

the actual JFLAG version of a shelter that got nowhere despite its marketing via a town hall meeting on November 7 2012 and social media.

Homeless impatient with agencies over slow progress for promised shelter

And we continue to reap the world-wind for not addressing homelessness when it was manageable

Kingston’s Homeless MSM challenges scream for proper attention 2013

Homeless MSM/Trans youth draw attention in New Kingston

Dwayne's House board meeting recently yet no serious action to date with the member of parliament for the area where the men are Julian Robinson and a Reverend supposed interested in homelessess so late in the day 

JFLAG has no moral authority to speak on homeless gay men in New Kingston says members of the public

Safe house logo
The Quietus ......... The Safe House Project Closes 2009/10 the re-displacement of the homeless participants with excuse of "bad behaviour" used as the reason sans any psyco social element written in the project enacted.

The Homeless Project, the meeting and more 2009

Homeless MSM to feel the pinch as JASL issues ultimatum 2009 where it all begun to go downhill and our brothers and sisters still struggle with no meaningful answer and flowery lip service from privileged persons.

also see the former ED's take on the matter and the heartbreak for some as to how the least amongst us are used: HERE

Peace and tolerance



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