The Coordinator of the Aids Prevention and Control Unit at the Ministry of Health is concerned about the lack of condoms available to revellers who would be playing mas with large Carnival mas bands.
Keitha Kennedy said yesterday that there has been an increase in the number of people who visit clinics after the carnival season.
But even with this reality, carnival bands that have the most masqueraders on Carnival Monday and Tuesday have not collaborated with the aids prevention unit this year to provide condoms for masqueraders.
Speaking on the Morning Brew with Hema Ramkissoon on Friday, Kennedy said they are perplexed to understand why the large bands are not considering the sexual health of their masqueraders.
“Well we have the health centres located in the leaflet that we gave out but mostly for this year, we saw the medium and small bands we did not get any large bands coming to us for condoms it was more like medium bands and J’Oouvert bands. This year we didn’t have that and I can’t say why they didn’t come forward I didn’t really engage with them (large bands) to find out,” said Kennedy.
According to Kennedy, mostly women visit the clinics after the carnival, however, she said within the last four years men have been coming forward and there have been new STIs- sexually transmitted infections- discoveries.
She said, “We see more women coming forward for the test. Our most at-risk group is 15-49 sometimes we breaking it down to 15-29. Male and female right now we have seen an increase in new infections among the male population but HIV is more females. Two females to one male – new cases are more men.”
Kennedy said the unit is providing information to women through NGOs on how to negotiate condoms and safe sex.