Tis the season to be safe

The holiday season is upon us, and although it is expected that most discussions will surround choosing gifts and decorations, there is a bigger topic, which has to do with our sexual interactions.

Around this time can be a “boozy” and wild time. It is usually common to attend parties and indulge in liquor, and not being in the “right” state of mind can alter our thinking, making it easy to make decisions that can alter one’s life forever.

In these cases, one can make an error in judgement which can bring on unwanted diagnoses like HIV or other sexually transmitted infections; and although HIV is not a death sentence, it can potentially change anyone’s life for some time to come. How then do we ensure we avoid certain encounters?

For one, make use of information that is created to empower; by being empowered, it becomes easier to make the decisions that will allow for peace of mind, to be present and plan our futures wisely.

When TPDCo’s training unit conceptualized the HIV Awareness Webinar, the main idea was to arm service providers with information that could potentially change their thinking and influence their decision-making skills. There were no mind-blowing facts in the webinar, it simply focused on how the power is within us to make the right choices.

The two-hour long discussion on “HIV and tourism. How one impacts the other,” explored crucial information about HIV/AIDs and other sexually transmitted infections. The discussions candidly discussed sexual health, and basic information about getting tested, wearing protection correctly and having the right conversations with one’s partner.

In 2021, some 30 plus years after the first case of HIV was discovered, sexual health and sexuality would appear to be a breeze of a topic. However, TPDCo, has seen the need to continue sharing basic facts, and to empower tourism’s most valuable asset, it’s human resource.

The goal was to ensure that individuals can understand how the illness affects the tourism sector, to ensure that their workplaces are safe spaces to have discussions and make changes. 

Currently, 32,000 Jamaicans are infected with HIV, and the numbers are higher in the resort areas. For reasons such as a younger age group of service providers, transactional sex, and the mobility of tourism workers which make it easier to transmit infections.

Although policies have been created to safeguard the rights of those living with HIV, some persons living with HIV still experience stigma and discrimination for an illness that allows for a normal life.

There is much to be done, and while the work continues with partnering with other organizations to champion the message of ending stigma and discrimination, we continue to herald the message of safer sex and responsible mingling, especially in the tourism sector.

It is the season to be safe, but this doesn’t mean locking oneself away, information and access to resources have made it easier to enjoy life in fun and responsible ways.  This Yuletide season remember to

  • Use a latex condom every time, and for all types of sexual activities and with every partner.
  • Have one faithful uninfected partner.
  • Try an avoid engaging in sexual activities while intoxicated, especially with strangers, this can impair thinking and decision-making skills.
  • Do not do drugs or share injection needles.
  • Get the facts on STIs, HIV and AIDS.

Watch the webinar on our Youtube page for more facts about the links between HIV and the tourism sector, HIV facts, hear from a person living positively with HIV, and details on the National Workplace Policy on HIV/AIDS.